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  • Writer's pictureMark Calverley

Green Week Event: 21st September 2021: Visit to Overtown Organic Farm Cranham

9 of us visited Overtown Organic Farm Cranham

Paula Whittaker, gave us a guided tour of the farm. We were all inspired by the family commitment– “knowledgeable and enthusiastic” (Ramesh), “excellent, very clear and down to earth” (Ian).

We found out how complicated the circumstances are for organic and ecologically minded farmers. “I knew that they needed subsidies of some sort …. but had not quite realised how unstable these schemes were to make such sustainable practices sustainable!” (Sacchi).

We began to understand “the challenges of developing a long-term farm management plan when the subsidies and environmental schemes are constantly changing and the details of their operation are not available until the very last minute. It was also interesting to hear how the land management ambitions of the National Trust affect the organic farming plans for Overtown, and how the inevitable uncertainty created by tenancy influence the long-term vision for the business” (Ernest)

Nevertheless, the commitment to an ethical and moral way of farming was impressive. The integration of “organic farming, the land, wild plants, trees and the climate” was profound…. “One thing I found particularly interesting was her explanation of the importance of getting the construction of hedgerows correct for the wildlife corridors on a farm” (Ramesh)

Paula conveyed her passion for balancing the needs of her livestock with the resources of the farm, the wildlife that had returned over the years – including corn buntings, how the tap roots of wild plants brought vital minerals to support livestock, and how the enrichment of the pasture was helping with biodiversity and sequestration of carbon.

We all saw how the farm sat so perfectly within stunning scenery – connected to and comfortable with the land and the soil, helping nature recover. Sachi said “the farm felt like a linchpin in the biodiversity corridor connecting the commons and woods”

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