Celebrating 20 Years of Daylesford Organic
September is synonymous with crisp mornings, copper leaves, hedgerows full of blackberries – and the farm’s annual Harvest Festival. I always look forward to this point in the year when we gather to give thanks for all the produce we have been able to grow, and welcome lots of visitors to the farm to see what we do, speak to our artisans and enjoy lots of food, music and fun.
This year’s celebrations feel particularly special as they mark twenty years since I opened our first farmshop at Daylesford and 47 years that my family has been farming organically. As I write this, I can barely believe how fast the time has flown by and yet in the same instance, so much has happened. When I started out, I never imagined that Daylesford would grow in the way that it has, or that the urgency I felt to switch our conventional farm to organic would spread to become part of a much greater groundswell of change.
When I started talking about farming our Staffordshire estate organically in the seventies, there were just a few of us who believed in its merits. We had come to the same conclusion: that the pesticides and chemicals we’d been using on our crops and the way we were farming our land was damaging it. Reaping out every last bit of goodness from the soil was starving it of nutrients, so it felt clear to me that unless we made a radical change the next generation would have no means of growing food.
That was just the start. Our farm’s conversion to organic took seven years, and each stage of Daylesford’s development that has followed has been very natural – from setting up our creamery and welcoming new breeds of livestock to establishing our wetland and agroforestry projects, opening a cookery school and winning a Green Michelin Star. As this evolution has been happening, so have the conversations around living sustainably and looking after the planet. The nature-based farming methods that we’ve been practising have become part of a universal philosophy and a wider understanding that we need to look after nature and our planet.
This month’s Organic September campaign is just one of the ways in which the topic is being brought into the mainstream. You can read more about it here, and I hope that the more knowledge is shared like this, the more people will rethink the way they farm, shop, eat or live – ultimately choosing organic to safeguard the future for our grandchildren. I’m incredibly proud that we’ve been part of the movement since it began, and am hopeful that the next twenty years will see even more radical reform and regeneration.
None of this would be possible without the hard work and support of my brilliant team at the farm – five of whom have been with me since that very first day. I feel so grateful to be surrounded by people who share my passion for nature and my belief in wanting to convey it to others and inspire change. I hope that lots of you will be able to come to our Harvest Festival later this month to meet some of these special people and celebrate the last twenty years with us.
To see a little more of what we do, you can enjoy daily updates from the farm via my Instagram page, or visit my website.
I am hopeful that the next 20 years will see even more radical reform and regeneration.
Please note that following the deeply sad news of the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, we have made the decision to postpone the Harvest Festival at Daylesford until spring 2023.