A thriving farm: Farming and conservation hand in hand

A thriving farm: Farming and conservation hand in hand

As part of Green Careers Week, we speak to tenant farmer Fay about her green career and how her farm is helping the local wildlife.
Tenant farmer Fay is focused on helping the local wildlife.
Tenant farmer Fay has diversified her family's farm while also helping the local wildlife.
Tenant farmer Fay is focused on helping the local wildlife.
Tenant farmer Fay has diversified her family's farm while also helping the local wildlife.

I'm Fay, a tenant farmer on a traditional family farm in Leicestershire. We grow wheat for Weetabix, OSR, barley, and beans and run a flock of breeding sheep. We also produce and sell nutritious wild bird seed mixes, many of the ingredients for which are grown on our farm. 

I’m passionate about farming and conservation - at Eyebrook, we believe the two go hand in hand. That's why we farm in a regenerative style, and we're always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact and support the biodiversity on our farm. That means we farm to improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and enhance ecosystem services. We know we need bees for our crops, so we do everything we can to support them.

We encourage the increase in bird numbers and beneficial insects, creating margins and conserving hedgerows. Regenerative farming is good for the environment because it helps protect the soil, water, and air. It's also good for the farm because it helps us produce healthy crops without using as many chemicals. 

Why bird seed? 

When I came back from university, there wasn't enough work on the farm to sustain another person, so we started to investigate diversifying. Looking at our local market, our proximity to the reservoir, and the number of birds and ornithologists there, birdseed felt like a natural leap. 

Conservation comes naturally to us as we have been practising that on farm for many years. As an arable farm, we are busy in summer, but growing bird seed means we are busy all year round. Birds play an important role in the ecosystem, helping control pests, pollinate plants, and disperse seeds. By providing high-quality bird seed, Eyebrook Wild Bird Feeds helps support a variety of bird species, including many which are in decline. 

Farming sustainably 

We do many things to reduce our environmental impact. For example, we conduct regular carbon audits to identify areas where we can improve. We have also reduced the amount of fieldwork and tractor use we do, which has helped reduce our carbon emissions. 

Rising costs made us look at ways to reduce our expenditure. We reduced our use of fertilisers where possible by extending the rotation and introducing livestock in the rotation, and using farmyard manure as a fertiliser. We also use many regenerative and organic practices, which protect the soil as much as possible.  

Educating and empowering our customers 

Our customers love buying our bird seen from a traditional, nature-friendly farm in our farm shop. They are served by family members and can take a walk through the farm to see our conservation work. They can see the fields where their products are grown and see the wealth of wildlife and birds. 

Customers can now bring their old containers and refill them with our bird seed. This is a great way to save money and packaging. A selection of products is also available to buy by weight, so customers can simply scoop the seed they require. 

Green Careers Week 2023

Find out more about how different roles across farming and growing are all contributing to a better environment and protecting wildlife.

Visit our Green Careers Week 2023 page, or find out about a host of other industries, working to protect our planet.

Advice for young people considering a career in agriculture or horticulture 

Agriculture and horticulture provide a brilliant and varied space to anyone looking for a career. British farmers produce food to some of the best standards in the world. 

People are becoming more environmentally aware, meaning they're also interested in looking at the impact their food has. We see more people looking for locally grown, sustainable food, which is brilliant for farming. The world will always need feeding. It's a growing sector! 

As a farmer, I know I need to be adaptable and have a wide range of skills, covering everything from people to social media and, of course, sustainability. 

Ultimately, I need to be passionate about the food I'm producing and have a business mindset. This means being able to: 

  • Think strategically about my farm
  • Understand my costs and revenue
  • Make sound financial decisions 
  • Market my products and services effectively 
  • Build relationships with customers and suppliers 

It's less about knowing all the technical details and more about coming with a can-do, passionate attitude. Having the right attitude is essential for success in farming. Farming is a challenging but rewarding career, and those who are passionate about their work are more likely to succeed. 

Stewardship of land is a real privilege

I feel privileged to be a farmer at Eyebrook. It's a way of life that connects me to the land and the seasons. It's also a way for me to provide food for people and support the environment. 

If you're considering a career in agriculture or horticulture, I encourage you to go for it. It's a challenging but rewarding career path, and there's never been a better time to get involved. 

As a farmer, I get to experience the changing of the seasons first-hand. I see the land come alive in spring, the crops grow and ripen in summer, and the harvest in autumn. It's truly an amazing experience. 

I also get to play a role in feeding the world. Knowing the food I produce is helping to nourish people is a very rewarding feeling. 

And finally, I get to be a steward of the land. I'm committed to farming in a sustainable way that protects the environment for future generations. 

If you're passionate about the land, food, and the environment, then a career in agriculture or horticulture is a great choice. It's a challenging but rewarding career path that allows you to make a real difference in the world! 

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