The Pemberton Family

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The Pemberton family sees each member being involved in the operation of the farm business in one way or another.

They are passionate about promoting British agriculture and are continuously striving to improve their dairy farm, not only for the future sustainability of the family business, but for the public they serve through their successful farm shop.

It is the shop that lies at the heart of the business, promoting their own produce and bringing the farm and public together through ventures like raw milk and the milkshake vending machine. ‘

Getting people to understand where their food comes from and educating the public about farming is something the Pemberton family is passionate about, particularly Tom. He logs, and shares his farming weekly activities via his YouTube channel which has huge popularity across the world. His videos not only promote the dairy industry, but also serve as an educational tool for the non-farming community too.

They have also introduced positive environmental changes on farm, implementing a dribble bar on the slurry system, purchasing electric milk floats and investing in solar panels.

They have also done a lot to push local produce that is grown on the farm to then sell in the farm shop. When not possible to source straight off the farm they try to get the produce as local as possible.

The Pemberton’s say they try to maximise profit margins the best they can by cutting out the middle man. They recognise they are a small dairy farm with very limited scope to expand so it is all about making changes and improving the existing infrastructure and overall efficiency of the farm, including most recently installing a new parlour.

Succession has always been something the Pemberton’s have been mindful of giving their son Tom the opportunity to be involved in bank manager’s meetings from a young age, which Tom said he ‘felt very lucky’ to be able to do.

The Lowry Family

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The Lowry family run a small family mixed farm which takes pride in breeding quality Limousin cattle. Their pedigree herd has been generated over the past 25 years by the late Graham Lowry and his wife Barbara. Today the farm is run by Emma, Mark, and their family. Alongside the herd, they run arable and offer a contracting service with the help of their son Billy, who has become a partner in the business. Manby farm has been farmed by the Lowry family for over 100 years and they are extremely passionate about continuing and developing the farm’s legacy through younger family members.

Dealing with the issue of succession was something the family felt was very important to sort out and with the help of The Royal Countryside Fund was able to make happen. They said they value having Billy’s input and his ability to offer different perspectives and views to the family farm business. They said so many small family farms are often reluctant to hand over the farm, but to keep youngsters interested, they said succession is key.

The family have an unwavering belief in protecting small family farms and preserving and nurturing the land for future generations, having had the farm in the family for over a century.

When it comes to helping the industry on its net zero journey the Lowry family are trying to do their bit on their small farm, working alongside nature, not against it. They are aware of how important soil is and the value of looking after their soil structure.

They also believe engaging with the public and highlighting the importance of good quality home grown food is crucial for the future of small family farms. Most weeks the family feature on their local radio station where they inform the public about some of the challenges farmers are facing. The family also offer school visits and open days on the farm to help members of the public learn about and experience rural life, sustainable farming and to connect with nature.

They said getting the public on the side of farming and realising the challenges farmers face is key, as well as putting emphasis on the importance of choosing locally sourced food.

The Beaumont Family

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Sam and Claire Beaumont farm 385 acres in the Lake District operating a hybrid farm between rewilding and regenerative grazing with 65 shorthorn cattle, 14 Kune Pigs and four fell ponies. They are passionate about restoring their ancient wood pasture, species rich grassland and heather moorland habitats, while producing nutrient dense food. They produce ‘Pasture for Life’ certified Beef which they sell direct to consumers nationwide.

The farm is managed day to day by Sam and Claire, who have two young children, with Claire's parents also involved as partners in the family farm business.

Sam and Claire first started out trying to farm in a way that was similar to the way Claire's granddad had in the 1970s - mainly Swaledale sheep breeding mule lambs for auction. They said they quickly saw it was going to fail as they were reliant on inputs like fertilizer and feed that were getting too expensive and said it was damaging their ecosystem. After reviewing their family business in detail they decided to disperse the sheep and increase the cattle numbers. Inspired by regenerative graziers in the U.S and after visiting lots of innovative farmers here in the UK, they adopted a new rewilding and regenerative grazing approach.

Both Sam and Claire admit convincing Claire’s parents to convert to regenerative farming was difficult at the beginning, but now they fully embrace it. Since moving to zero grain feeding and outwintering their cattle they said they have found their animals are healthier and require less intervention and less routine treatments. Their grazing allows them to use an area of deferred grazing in the wood pasture for the winter, which allows them to feed less hay, which in turn has created a more resilient family business. They said they have seen an increase in species diversity, healthier soils, healthier animals and increased profitability.

While they recognise increased input costs will probably continue to threaten their family farm business, they are confident a low input system will help them with this, and hope one day when their children are older they will be interested in getting involved in the farm.

The Brown Family

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Bluebell Dairy has grown from milking a small herd of cows in 1953 to a thriving family farm business and a micro-dairy producing award-winning artisan ice-cream.

Geoff, his wife Rosemary and their son, Oliver, and partner, Ella, are tenant farmers and have worked together to grow the business, which hasn’t been without challenges.

To adapt during Covid-19, the family had to think of innovative ways to support the farm while it was closed to the public. For example, a ‘click and collect’ milk delivery service was set up overnight delivering home produced milk, ice creams and local produce to more than 650 households.

The Brown family seem to be always looking for new ideas and efficiencies to develop the farm, improve the welfare of the cows and support sustainable farming while expanding their educational offering for their visitors.

In the last 12 months, they said they have invested tens of thousands of pounds in diversifying to enhance visitor experience and safeguard the future of the farm park for the next generations.

They have recently spent £180,000 on a brand-new 7,200 square-foot purpose-built barn for their herd of 15 cows, which is complete with a robotic milker and cattle scratching brush. Stepping away from traditional farming practices, the family made this decision to boost the efficiency and productivity of its micro-dairy, improve the welfare for its cows and offer the chance for children and adults to see how their milk is produced.

The family are also investing in its educational offerings and facilities for local schools and nurseries and visitors, as their goal is to share their knowledge of farming and ensure the next generation know exactly where their food comes from.

They said their key measures to success have been the high level of hard work, determination and input from all of the family involved in the farm business.

When it comes to environmental responsibility, this is something the Brown family has kept at the forefront of their mind throughout the farms expansion journey. The family are passionate about nurturing the environment, participating in countryside stewardship, ongoing plans for solar panels and increased habitat management on the farm.