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Brown Cow Organics Perridge Farm, Pilton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 4EW, United Kingdom.

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MOOS - #BonnysBlog - Blog about the farm from a Guernsey Brown Cow

Our Guernsey Brown Cow Bonny has been 'writing' a blog which started just 16 days after she was born. Read facinating insights into life on our farm from the viewpoint of Bonny our Guernsey dairy cow; her blog is rich with images and videos for your information.

To follow #BonnysBlog announcements on our Twitter and Facebook channels click the icons in our website header above and you can click to read #BonnysBlog above or Click here to read #BonnysBlog most recent post

History of Perridge Farm

Clive and I were given the fantastic opportunity to take over Perridge farm from my father about 30 -years ago, after I returned from two years travelling to Australia, New Zealand and Canada. I had no qualifications in agriculture and in fact I don't think that I had ever been in the milking parlour prior to learning to milk the cows when I returned home!

However time, patience and a persona inherited from my Australian mother prevailed and the then small herd of Guernseys became my responsibility. My father carried on running the beef enterprise.

I then married Clive, a first generation farmer with qualifications from Bicton College of Agriculture (whom I met on Magnetic Island off the East coast of Australia). Clive shared my passion for good food and it is this that has developed the farm into one of the top food producers. Over the next few years my father retired and with the birth of two girls my duties in the milking parlour were relinquished to Clive and my interest became the beef

It was the BSE crisis that really opened both our eyes to what was happening with food production and we felt that the only way to produce safe healthy food was to do so organically.
This was reinforced as we became aware of the needs of our growing children and our concerns about what the effects of long term exposure to artificial chemicals and fertilisers would have on their health. We then investigated all aspects of farming, those that were producing under the terms of free range, traditional, without the use of chemicals or fertilisers etc.

What we found was that such loose terminology applied to farming and food production was ungoverned and open to much abuse. So before "organic" was a marketing concept we decided to convert to organic farming under the strict regulations set out by UKFROS and adhered to by the Soil Association. In doing so we aim to offer the very best organic meat and yoghurt, food full of flavour and nutrients which we believe is better for you.

About Perridge Farm

Perridge Farm is owned by myself Judith, and my husband Clive; four farms joined together make up the 480 acres of our organic farm situated on the South of the Mendip Hills in Somerset with wonderful views across the Vale of Avalon to Glastonbury Tor.

We have 100 Guernsey dairy cows that were established on the farm in 1957. Today they are fast becoming a rare breed.

The cows are a sight to behold as they graze our clover rich pastures. They produce wholemilk full of flavour as they are not pushed beyond their natural ability to produce milk.

Consequently, and because of their largely grass based diet, they live for many healthy years. (Did you know that the average life of a conventional dairy cow is only 4 years!)

Each year our cows give birth to a calf that is either reared to enter our dairy herd or reared for our award winning organic beef enterprise. We also grow organic cereal crops in rotation and these are then fed to our animals during the winter months.

Pesticides are never used at Perridge Farm

The below article is an excerpt from the Soil Association website, we fully support the SA in their quest to ban neonicontinoids. On our organic farm pesticides are never used as it is essential that the land works in harmony with nature to produce food free of chemicals

How do neonicotinoids harm bees & other wildlife?

Impact on honeybees

Research has focussed on the impact of these insecticides on honey bees, which are a commercial species. The chemicals have been found to impair bees’ communication, homing and foraging ability, flight activity, ability to discriminate by smell, learning, and immune systems. These all have an impact on bees' ability to survive.

Impact on other wildlife

According to the findings of the Worldwide Integrated Assessment on Systemic Pesticides 'Neonicotinoids impact all species that chew a plant, sip its sap, drink its nectar, eat its pollen or fruit'. This is because neonicotinoids act systemically. Plants, including wildflowers and hedgerows growing near treated crops, take these insecticides up into their leaves, stems, roots, flowers, pollen and nectar.

Whilst the impact of neonicotinoids on other wildlife has been poorly studied as research on other species is carried out, it is raising worrying questions about the wider impacts of neonicotinoids on our farmland wildlife.

Wild bees: Field trials suggest that wild bees may be more vulnerable to neonicotinoids than honey bees. There are nearly 2000 species of wild bees in Europe and nearly 1 in 10 are declining so severely they face extinction.

Butterflies & other pollinators: Once common and widespread UK farmland butterflies have declined by more than half since 2000, despite conservation spending doubling. Neonicotinoid usage has been found to strongly correlate with these declines. In total wild pollinators provide us with up to 60-90% of our insect pollination.
Leaf eaters: Research in the USA found that Monarch butterfly caterpillars are harmed when eating the leaves of wildflowers growing near to neonicotinoid treated crops. But the impact of contaminated wild plant leaves on caterpillars, beetles and other leaf eaters has been poorly studied.
Birds: According to leading bee researcher Professor Dave Goulson in a session at the Soil Association Conference 2014; 'Five neonicotinoid dressed maize seeds, or 32 dressed oilseed rape seeds, are enough to kill a partridge', though more research is needed.
Aquatic wildlife: Widespread contamination of waterways has been already discovered in some countries. Similar levels may be seen here in the UK, but no research has yet been done. Aquatic invertebrates, such as mayflies and water fleas, can suffer harm from low doses of neonicotinoids.
Soil life: Recent research found neonicotinoids in 100% of soil samples from treated crops, and nearby hedgerows. Whilst there has been little research into the impact of this, some research on common species of earthworms suggests that the levels found could cause both harm. Indirect effects due to a decline in insect food: Much of our farmland wildlife needs a diet rich in insects and other bugs to survive. Intensive farming has already caused a decline in this food source, and neonicotinoids may be making this scarcity even worse. In the Netherlands, strong correlations were found between neonicotinoid contamination of waterways and bird declines this link could be caused by the decline in insects and the impact of this on birds’ diets and ability to feed their chicks.

Sustainable Energy & Recyling

In January 2015 we installed solar panels on the roofs of the farm buildings, the panels were installed on the South, East and West facing roofs to maximise the energy from the sun from early in the morning until sunset. We believe utilising roof space for PV panels is far better than siting PV panels on farm land that can otherwise produce food for the population.

After 365 days the panels have generated 27900 KW of energy, ALL of the energy has been utilised for our organic yoghurt manufacture and chillers in both the dairy unit and butchery unit.

This benefits the environment as we do not rely heavily on importing electricity for the production of our produce.

Put simply the sun has powered all the machines at the farm that make our award winning organic yoghurt; the energy the sun generates heats the pasteurisers early in the morning, chills the fridges during the day and cools the organic yoghurt in the evening.

We also compost our used paper and cardboard, where after 6 months or so it provides valuable nutrients for our farm land.

Nature at Perridge Farm

You can explore our progressive organic farm by walking the farm trail or footpaths and occasionally we have open farm events.

We have a wide range of wildlife habitats, from wildflower meadows to woodland, and certain areas have been designated as county wildlife sites. There is an abundance of wildlife including deer, badgers, rare breeds of bats, butterflies and a myriad of other insects, rabbits, hares, foxes and smaller mammals, all living in balanced harmony.

The farm is an ornithologists dream, with buzzards circling, heron and woodpeckers, finches, tits and thrushes, with the blue flash of the occasional kingfisher along the Burford stream.

Perridge Farm and Brown Cow Organics Team

Over the years as our diversification enterprise grows so do the team of people that we employ; each and every one of them are very simply fantastic.

Nine people who are highly skilled, dedicated and most importantly have a great sense of humour make up our Brown Cow Organics team and between them they produce our organic yoghurts, run the organic beef butchery and work in our very busy office.

Our longest serving employee Henry was our eldest employee on the farm; Henry was in his eighties when he finally 'retired' and even then popped down every morning to the farm to catch up and have a cuppa with the team. He started working for my father 65 years ago and has seen many changes in those five or so decades. He had never driven a tractor and was a true Somerset man, with hands the size of a large frying pan depicting the years of manual labour that they had encountered. Lightly built with not an inch of spare flesh on him Henry epitomised a past generation. Cycling twice a week into our local town to catch a bus to the seaside to get a breath of sea air must surely be one of the secrets to his healthy longevity. Henry lived to the ripe age of 90 years old, gently passing away in February 2015, a Eulogy to Henry penned and read out by my brother Stephen at his funeral tells not just the story of Henry, but an amazing account of farming through the decades.

Our great respect for Henry never undermines our appreciation for all of our Perridge Farm and Brown Cow Organics team; Henry was always introduced to any newcomers who were informed that the essence of a good working relationship is to always think that you are able to stay as long as Henry! Click here to read the full story of Henry and Perridge Farm through the decades