The farm will have been in the Blackmoor family ownership for a century come 2015, and Cyril has farmed it organically since the mid 1980’s because he felt uncomfortable ( both physically and philosophically) using chemicals to control weeds and pests and hormones and antibiotics to promote rapid growth in his livestock.
They have grown potatoes for many years, and, with encouragement from Bernard Govier, started growing root vegetables in the mid 1990’s; the labour demand increased and so in 2004 they finally ceased to raise any livestock and put all their energies into vegetables and cider apples.
The biggest weed problem comes in the form of couch grass and gallant soldier; most broad-leafed weeds can be managed with intensive mechanical and hand-weeding, but the gallant soldier is very persistent and can quickly overpower a crop. This year they have kept it at bay and the carrots have grown well, but as you can see in the pictures, the weed is making a gallant attempt to make harvesting more difficult even at this late part of the season. It will be finished with frost, but has left its legacy of millions of seeds ready for next year!
If it was easy everyone would want to be an organic farmer!
Cyril strongly believes the perseverance of organic farmers will eventually be recognised as a model for the future sustainable supply of good, nutritious healthy food. Eventually, the limited supplies of phosphate and the problems of sourcing artificial nitrogen from fossil fuel will mean that the large intensive mega-farms will have to adopt some of the practices that organic farmers are now developing. Furthermore, the complex life systems within soil is only gradually being understood, and we destroy that food chain at our peril; it makes no sense to contaminate soil with a range of chemical poisons which, even if pronounced ‘safe’ may well interact within themselves to produce new unknown chemicals.
For these reasons and many others give Cyril and his wife, Sara, much satisfaction, they farm organically and will always continue to do so.