A day down on the farm
This weekend I joined a group of Soil Association members for a lovely wander around Pillars of Hercules Farm. The day was one of our summer series of farm walks taking place right across the UK – giving Soil Association members an in-depth look at organic farms and the chance to hear directly from farmers about why organic makes a difference for them.
Pillars of Hercules Farm is in Falkland in Fife, growing a huge range of fruit and vegetables, keeping chickens, running a successful veg box scheme, an award winning farm shop, and a café/restaurant serving 100% organic food and drink. The farm and café are both certified by the Soil Association as organic, and are proud to share their work with members.
We were lucky enough to catch a dry day for our tour around the beautifully set-out poly tunnels, orchards and fields. Farm owner Bruce Bennett talked to us about his commitment to organic and why he’s been farming this way for more than 30 years.
We learnt about the care he and his team take to give the land time to recover after a period of use, and about the effort they go to to ensure everything works in a cycle: from crops and eggs going to good use in the café and veg boxes, to any waste from the café going back into compost so it can replenish the nutrients in the soil, helping new crops to grow.
Bruce talked about his work across decades to get the farm to where it is now – starting out with a little shack and welcoming visitors and customers, growing to provide tea and soup for people popping by, and slowly expanding to the full-scale farm shop and beautiful organic café they now have on site.
All of the members who were there with me were keen gardeners, fascinated to get tips: Bruce obliged with thoughts on everything from slug control (a mix of picking them off at night and resigning yourself to them being an inevitability!) to growing in tricky or small spaces (Rhubarb was the top suggestion – Pillars have it thriving in narrow gaps between polytunnels!).
One couple there with me were new to Fife and delighted to have the chance to learn more about their local organic farm; the teenage daughter of one member took a shine to the cheeky chickens; and we were all treated to a fantastic aerial display from the resident swallows.
All in all it was a lovely day on the farm: a great chance to come together, learn a little about organic and remind ourselves of why it matters – for nature, for animals, forwildlife, for food, and for our own wellbeing.
Become a Soil Association member and join us on a farm walk like this one later this year.