Living The Organic Lifestyle with Farmdrop Farmer Rowie Meers
Living an organic lifestyle is important to helping protect the planet, so your baby can have the best future possible. We've teamed up with our friends at Farmdrop to give you an insight into organic & ethical food cultivation with one of their farmers. Head over to @babymoriofficial to let us know your thoughts!
A taste of the good life with organic pioneer Rowie Meers
With the first breath of fresh air, you know that something special is happening at Purton House Organics. Set in idyllic Wiltshire on the edge of the Cotswolds, farmer Rowie lives and breathes the organic way of life and it’s her dedication to ethical small-scale mixed farming that sets her produce apart. Rowie is living proof that the ‘back-to-the-land’ journey is a viable alternative to intensive methods that harm the environment and our health. As the first farmer to sell directly to consumers via Farmdrop, in our interview she shares the beauty of organic farming and how her business has been turned around by the platform.
My farm is…
Neatly located in between Swindon and the Cotswolds. It’s not too hilly and the climate is very good for growing. We’ve got great soil - there’s not too much clay and it’s free-draining which creates ideal conditions for healthy crops. It happens to be a lovely part of the world too.
What’s the history of the farm?
We moved here as a family from Sussex in 1975 when my mother ran the farm and she had pigs and cattle. We weren’t organic then but the farm was very extensive and we had some arable (plant) crops too. I took over the running of the farm in 1992 with my three daughters and haven’t looked back.
"I’m a big believer in small-scale mixed farming where animals, crops and thriving wildlife all work in natural harmony with each other. Everything we do at Purton House puts the environment first."
What do you farm?
I’m a big believer in small-scale mixed farming where animals, crops and thriving wildlife all work in natural harmony with each other. Everything we do at Purton House puts the environment first. On the 150 acre farm we grow our own organic vegetables all year round, with lots of leafy greens and root veg in the winter and lettuces, tomatoes and chillies in the summer. We produce free-range organic eggs from around 800 laying chickens who roam around freely during the day and sleep in mobile sheds at night. We raise native breed pigs and Sussex beef cattle too. It’s a very free range system – the pigs express their own natural behaviour by digging around and love a wallow in mud.
I’m passionate about what it means to be an organic farmer and wouldn’t have it any other way. I love seeing the beauty of nature taking its own protective course - for example when ladybirds put an end to an infestation of aphids on my broad beans! This is nature looking after itself, keeping things in balance. We’ve held organic status for just over 20 years and our variety veg box won a Soil Association Gold Award. I get a buzz from growing different varieties of plants from seed and seeing them grow into a vegetable or fruit in an organic way, simply as nature intended.
"I’m passionate about what it means to be an organic farmer and wouldn’t have it any other way. I love seeing the beauty of nature taking its own protective course"
What makes your produce special?
We’re lucky to have some fantastic soil here but that’s also down to how we take care of it. For brilliant sustainable farming, everything begins with the soil. We’ve nurtured a natural environment for growing beautiful organic fruit and vegetables and healthy grass for our animals. The many fruit trees on our farm also attract lots of bees and insects, adding richness and diversity to plant-life and our forest, and we’ve run an agroforestry project for 15 years to help create a sustainable system.
The world would be a tastier place…
If everybody cooked from scratch rather than relying on processed foods so much - there is so much you can do with really good basic ingredients. There’s lots to enjoy when it comes to raw food and vegetable-based dishes using incredible fresh ingredients that taste like they’re supposed to.
Favourite part of the job is...
Going out on a crisp cold morning when the sun is shining and seeing what’s growing is an absolute highlight. I get a thrill from seeing the progress after planting and really enjoy embracing the change of seasons - which is very apparent on the farm!
What does the future hold?
When I took over the farm I wanted it to be a part of the community. I wanted it to work for people who live locally so I set up a veg box scheme and farm shop, however the economic climate for farmers is tough. Making direct sales to customers with Farmdrop has meant that I can stay true to my values as a small-scale organic farmer and still viably produce wholesome locally sourced food. They take the pain out of marketing and accounting so I can concentrate on producing food well. In Farmdrop’s model, food is only harvested after customers place an order. This has really helped our business because income is guaranteed and I’m not spending time out of the fields chasing payments. It’s thanks to selling most of our produce via Farmdrop that we can now fully stock our farm shop too. The team are genuinely there for the producer as well as the customer, which isn’t always the case. It’s the most ideal way to get food to people’s door and I see it as the future of how our food system will work – it’s what people really want but it’s what other places can’t do.
Farmdrop is an ethical grocer delivering delicious food direct from small, local producers across London. Discover more at www.farmdrop.com
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