These ideas to help our small farmers are good to promote food, and to stop farmers financially struggling, as the supermarkets continue to dominate. You can make things easier for yourself by certifying organic produce for around £30 a year through Wholesome Food Association (run on a trust basis, with occasional audits). And you could also switch your farm to run on Community Supported Agriculture principles (locals pay in advance so you can get on with farming – they get ‘shares’ as food).
- Farming Help, Farmwell & Farming Community Network all have free helplines
- Addington Fund offer cheaper rents & free feed (as does Forage Aid).
- Royal Agriculture Benevolent Fund helps farmers of all ages on low incomes with grants (as does The Prince’s Countryside Fund).
- WWOOF (willing workers on organic farms) gives food and accommodation to temporary volunteers, to help out.
Keeping Animals Safe on Farms
See toxic plants (including hops) to avoid near pets (avoid cocoa/pine/rubber mulch & fresh compost near pets). Use humane safe slug/snail deterrents & no-dig garden methods to protect wildlife. Horse-toxic plants include yew & oak. See barnyard friends for species-specific tips.
- Footrot is often prevented with clean transport, foot-trimming and quarantining new flocks for 30 days. Purdue University & Homeopathy at Wellie Level have good info. Sheepeasy (hammock) makes sheep/goat footcare quick and more comfortable.
- Wildlife-friendly fencing alternatives are better than electric fences (although the current is low, horns can get trapped and one child died after the child’s head touched the wire, on wet grass). Don’t let pets (including sheepdogs) play nearby (their heads are the same height) or when it rains. You can buy a device to know if a mammal is trapped, which turns off voltage, until the animal is free. Dry stone walling can keep sheep safe (Conservation Volunteers can help or build yourself.
- See safer alternatives to netting for wildlife. There are many ways to protect fruit, without harm.
- Check dry stone walls for ragwort. Although home to a native caterpillar, this weed is lethal to livestock and equines, and must be removed of to DEFRA laws. World Horse Welfare has tips. Remove in 4 easy steps with ragfork (bright colours, to see in the field).
Birthday Books for Small Farmers
- Charles Dowding’s No-Dig Gardening Course contains 18 lessons to grow food without chemicals, digging or weeds.
- Ben’s Lean Farm gardening books uses Japanese efficiency philosophy for more profit on small farms.
- Gardening For Profit has ideas to sell food and launch a box scheme (leave in a safe place, onion, garlic etc are toxic to pets)
- Agritourism has ideas to diversify income by renting holiday lets through Farmstay. Ensure your farm is free from toxic plants (above) and other hazards (some may wish to not accept pets, if they have livestock). Some farmers make more money this way, and give up sending animals to slaughter, letting children get to know barnyard friends instead).
- See more books to help small-scale farmers.