The Dean Organic Fund Completed Loans
We would like to congratulate Nick Wenman at Albury Vineyard, Jerry and Emma Saunders at Orchard Organic Farm and Izabela Cholaj & Gregory Hickin of Trevelyan Farm Organics who have completed their loan repayments. Find out more about them below.
Albury Organic Vineyard
Albury is a small, family-run biodynamic vineyard located in the beautiful Surrey Hills and is run by Nick Wenman and his team.
Speaking about Albury and the Dean Organic Fund Nick says, ‘the major challenge for vineyards in the UK is our variable weather conditions, which can lead to significant fluctuations in fruit yield and quality. This is particularly acute for organic vineyards with yields typically 20% less than conventional vineyards. Of the 750 commercial vineyards in the UK only around 20 are certified organic so there is no alternative supply of fruit in difficult years. It is important therefore that we do everything possible to ensure the maximum possible yield whilst maintaining quality. This is accomplished by various canopy management techniques, one of which is to trim the vines several times during the growing season. This encourages good fruit set, exposes the grapes to the maximum sunlight available and allows airflow around the grapes to prevent disease.
Up until we purchased the vine-trimmer with the funding from the Dean Organic Fund this operation has been performed by hand using hedge cutters, but this is inefficient and time consuming, which means that it isn’t always done effectively. We first used the vine-trimmer in 2018 and it played a significant role in us being able to properly ripen what was our largest ever harvest. It also helped prevent disease by making sure that the canopy was not too dense. It is now an essential part of our annual management programme for the vineyard.’
Trevelyan Farm Organics
Trevelyan Farm Organics has been established since 2015 grown out of Greg and Iza’s personal passion for organic produce having given up their urban lifestyle. The loan granted in 2018 funded the purchase equipment to support the developing business such as seed drill, irrigation, and netting.
‘We work on our land balancing farm and family life is a constant battle and the loan helped us manage the super time-consuming jobs and be more productive and help us expand and be more profitable and grow to the business we have today’.
Trevelyan farm has grown to not just supply the farm shop, but now wholesale and supporting local shops and restaurants and now employing a part time seasonal worker.
‘It is so important to us that we be part of something that solving issues addressed in farming’
Trevelyan farm is a located just off the A394, a little beyond Rosudgeon in Cornwall surrounded by conventional farmed land, and the contrast in the biodiversity is evident providing an oasis for birds and insects.
Trevelyan have plans to continue their growth and we wish Greg and Iza all the best for the future.
Orchard Organic Farm
Orchard Organic Farm is our busy family farm, bought in 1991 and organic since 1997. We are lucky to own approximately 60 acres (and rent abit more) of fertile South Devon countryside. The business in it’s current format was established in 2010 and has grown to now employ a great gang of six regular staff, with our numbers swelling in the summer with students.
We specialise in producing and packing organic eggs primarily for Riverford. Our business currently consists of:
- 6,000 organic laying hens in small flocks of approximately 500 hens with 1,000 chicks following on in our chick rearing sheds
- our small herd of South Devon suckler cows graze the fields
- one thousand apple trees are sold for eating or juicing
- Recently we have begun to grow vegetables as part of the Riverford vegetable growing co-operative, making full use of the fertile soil that is uncovered when we move our mobile chicken sheds to their new positions with every new flock
- This year we have planted the first of an ongoing project to plant 1200 hazel nut trees
We applied to the Dean Organic Fund in 2018 after reading an article in the Soil Association magazine and were very fortunate to be accepted for a loan to enable us to fulfil two diversification project we had on the go but were struggling to fund from cashflow.
The Hen’s Dens
The Hen’s Dens are our timber tent camping / glamping pods. The Dens are our original chicken sheds built by us at the start of our organic laying hens enterprise, and which became redundant as we have expanded the business.
The Dean Organic Fund enabled us to finish the project and greet our first paying guest at the end of July 2018. The Hen’s Dens are proving really popular and busy, we are really proud of our near 100% reviews and feedback, but it is important to keep evolving and improving, so we have added ‘The Hen House’, a communal barn space, as, even in our location, the sun doesn’t always shine.
The Dean Organic Fund also enabled us to buy two key specialist items of equipment, our Pelican planter for plug plants such as leeks and the water wheel planter for planting courgettes and runner beans through plastic mulch.
The Dean Organic Fund loan has been a huge benefit to our business and we are very grateful for being selected and the support.
How the Dean Organic Fund helped me
Read the stories of the fund’s first beneficiaries
Grazing matters – Find out how the Dean Organic Fund helped Sally Hempsell with a conservation grazing enterprise.
For more help with organic farming and growing visit Farming Organically