All of these factors have complex and interwoven relationships and we hope that over time we can continue not just to strive for sustainability but to go further and provide a model for others that shows the benefits, both financially and environmentally, of an environmentally sound approach to running a business.
South Farm is largely self-sufficient in seasonal vegetables, fruit, herbs, eggs and pork. At the end of 2017 we served over 35,000 meals to weddings, party and corporate guests based substantially on our own organically produced materials. We grow an unusually diverse array, about 300 in all, many of them old varieties and relatively exotic, Mediterranean and Tuscan, Chinese and tropical. By applying sustainable resources, sun, water, compost and manual labour, and eschewing fertilisers, chemicals and pesticides, we achieve this in an almost carbon neutral way, only diesel for the mini tractor figuring on the debit side.
Surpluses are sold to four leading Cambridge restaurants, the revenue covering bought in costs for seeds, materials and consumables.
Animals here include a free range flock of around 100 egg laying Black Rock poultry and a closed herd of Kune Kune pigs. Farrowing sows are brought into the Barnyard and litters of piglets are a constant delight to visitors. The chickens lay around 500 eggs a week, more or less our usage. The pigs provide all our Hog Roast requirements and the rest go to our local butcher, Leechs in Melbourn, one of the few remaining butchers with a small abattoir, and their own smoke house, bake house and delicatessen. They return to us as chitterlings and trotters, brawn and black pudding, sausages and ham.
From the lake at the nature reserve we take about 150 naturalised Rainbow Trout each season, sportingly caught on the dry fly, weighing between three and six pounds (for more info please see the Nature reserve section). From the barnyard we cull about 100 doves a year and shoot as many collared doves and any amount of wood pigeons we need at any season. The surrounding estate yields Muntjac venison and ground and flying game as needed in season.
Our hardwood timber is now mature enough to provide us with enough seasoned off cut wood for our stoves, supplemented by pollarding ancient willows at the nature reserve. In addition to this we have a very ambitious planting programme for the newly acquired land surrounding the property (further details will follow soon). The brightly coloured osier stems are harvested annually in the spring to serve as bean and pea sticks, plant supports and when spent as fire kindling. Leaf fall is collected to provide valuable mould for mulching around the pond.