Farming the land ploughed by a rather famous former tenant, Robert Burns, farmer Bryce Cunningham is the third generation of his family to work the lands of the tenanted farm of Mossgiel. Soon after taking over the reins of the business, Bryce’s father died of lung cancer and the UK dairy industry entered the worst downfall in prices for generations. Faced with being forced to leave the family farm, Bryce decided to change his approach, working with nature to create a sustainable and ethical future.
Being paid just 15p per litre of milk to look run the farm and provide an income for the family was not sustainable. Bryce ended contract production and decided to offer Mossgiel’s high quality, non-homogenised milk directly to the customer. A pasteuriser was installed on-farm to reduce food miles to zero and the farm began to transition to organic. Bryce is now testing cow with calf farming on a small scale, and has recently gone 100% Single-Use Plastic Free, in response to customer demand.
A 670ac Organic, Pasture-for-Life family-run farm located close to the Berwickshire Coast in the Scottish Borders. The family business partnership is an integrated, farming and food production enterprise, selling meat from its farm and through its butchery direct to the customer. It delivers clear provenance and promises high quality with minimal environmental impact and aspires to excellence in land-management, animal care, environmental stewardship and customer service. Peelham’s philosophy is based on the concept of sustainable self-reliance.
In its on-farm butchery, smoker and charcuterie facility the Peelham family make its organic charcuterie, salamis, sausages, burgers, bacon, hams and traditional meat cuts which it supplies direct to consumers via its website, farmers markets, restaurants, hotels, delicatessens and independent, ethical retailers. It produces the meat from its own farmed cattle, sheep and pigs breeding some 95% of its own stock and collaborates with a small group of other organic farmers for the remainder including The Ethical Dairy from which it sources dairy bull calves for Ruby-veal. It also holds occasional events and runs regular butchery courses.
The intensification of dairy farming has been a concern of David and Wilma Finlay for many years. The Ethical Dairy system is the culmination almost a decade of preparation to test whether it is possible to manage a cow with calf dairy herd at a commercial scale. Rainton has been an organic dairy farm for more than 20 years. During most of that period the farm has been open regularly to members of the public for farm tours and educational visits via Cream o’ Galloway Visitor Centre. One of the most frequently asked questions during farm tours was ‘why can’t you keep the cows and calves together?’
After an initial unsuccessful pilot 5 years ago, Rainton Farm is now in year 3 of a successful roll out of a cow with calf system. It is believed to be the first commercial scale cow with calf farm in Europe and it is based on low input, lean farming system that works on ecological farming principles. Demand for cheese from The Ethical Dairy is now outstripping supply and the business is installing a new cheese dairy to increase production.
Whitmuir is a 54 ha, mixed upland organic farm, located 16 miles south of Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders. Owners Heather and Pete Richie are passionate advocates of organic farming with the aim of developing the farm as a centre for sustainable food and farming. This is being achieved by working with Whitmuir Community Benefit Society; formed in 2012 to raise funds through a share issue to transfer the land at Whitmuir into community ownership. The long term goal is to develop the farm as a Living Learning Space on sustainable food and farming that engages, informs and educates the public about sustainable food and farming and provides a focus for small scale innovation and research.
The farm rears beef cattle, sheep, pigs, layer hens for eggs and turkeys for Christmas, alongside seasonal vegetables and some soft fruit. In 2006 Whitmuir launched its Farm Supporters scheme, where supporters make regular monthly payments to the farm in exchange for food, trusting the business to grow and source organic food for them. That ongoing commitment by supporters has helped Whitmuir grow to the stage that it now employs over 27 people.