Trailblazing organic farm in Wales grows vegetables year-round.
Peter Segger and his partner Anne Evans, are using innovative new methods to accelerate compost production on their 50-acre organic farm, near Lampeter in west Wales. Traditionally, it takes up to a year to make compost. Peter and Anne have got it down to just six weeks, enabling them to achieve the “holy grail” of farming aims – year-round, sustainable production.
“The step change for us was the compost and it’s key to everything we do.” says Peter. “Very few people are doing this in the UK and there’s no logical reason why not.”
Onsite compost production has transformed operations at Blaencamel. The couple have combined their years of experience with modern machinery to develop their composting process. Two acres of farmland are dedicated to greenhouses. Their protected cover enables the farm to produce wide ranging fruit and vegetables throughout the year.
In addition, Peter and Anne have grown 15 acres of field vegetables in rotation for more than 20 years. “We work to become more productive on every acre that we grow,” explains Peter, outlining an efficiency which has led the farm to become sustainable and carbon neutral. Inspired by the Soil Association, they arrived at Blaencamel in 1974 with no farming background. “We were looking for a new way of doing things,” says Peter. “We wanted to address better health for ourselves and for the environment.”
Distribution is achieved in as short a chain as possible through local farmers’ markets and a Cardiff-based box scheme. “We’ve sold to English markets, London markets, even supermarkets,” says Peter “and we’ve learnt that Welsh produce sells best in Wales.”
In the dedicated farm kitchen, Anne makes preserves with surplus seasonal produce. Nothing is wasted and this brings in an additional income. A few sheep are dotted around, reared solely to fertilise the land, their wool is used for compost.
“We could sell the compost,” says Peter, however he quickly rules that out. “Were I 40 years younger,” he adds.
During their early years, lack of knowledge was their biggest challenge. “We made so many mistakes,” says Peter, contemplating the positive impact of the internet on contemporary farming.
Blaencamel hosts occasional farm visits, a means by which Peter and Anne feel they can give back to their community and share their knowledge.
Peter refers to the success of the farm as an on-going journey, continually striving to achieve sustainability in all its various aspects.
“The three parameters for farming success are soil, environment and marketing. Manage those well,” says Peter “and you’ll have a resilient and sustainable business. That and good compost.”
To find out more visit: www.blaencamel.com.
Categories: Small enterprise success stories.