We have farmed the land here in the Scottish Borders for over forty years running it alongside our farm in North Yorkshire. Five years ago, we decided to relocate to our farm in the Scottish Borders as we were aware that significant changes were needed in order to protect the environment, the wildlife, the water quality and to regenerate the soils that the farm relied upon. The Scottish farm is a vital part of our production process.
Over the last three years we have focused on moving forwards to create our statement of purpose which is 'to nurture fulfilment through farming in synergy with nature.' We have focused on effective rainfall retention through regenerative management, having a healthy soil capable of growing nutritionally beneficial produce, maintaining and developing a diverse, dense , perennial, green plant polyculture harvesting sunshine to maximum effect and developing an effective farm food web which sustains a transient and permanent range of farm life and wild life (down to microbial level).
Our work started through the reading of the land to review brittleness, ecosystem processes, the tools available to us and their probable results. We began recording a number of transects in different locations on the land, identifying plants, insects, wildlife and establishing a farm ecological database. We have over the past three years recorded over 300 known species of plants. In 2018 our successful AEC scheme titled 'Burnhouse Mains Water Voles & Water Quality' gained funding and as such acted as a catalyst allowing us to make changes on a far larger scale for more immediate benefit. We have over 16 years of historic evidence of wader birds present on the farm and through planned grazing which focuses on the provision for wildlife first we can ensure grassland is managed effectively in order to support the full farm web and diverse ecosystems. The AEC scheme is responsible for the creation of many ponds, the largest at 5000m. We are host to a number of rare species on the farm such as snipe, curlew, oystercatchers, water voles, newts, long eared owls and have photographs and live camera action of many species including Barn Owls through our nesting boxes - over 100 have been built and located on the farm.
We now employ a farm ecologist to gather data, monitor implementation and record evidence from grazing plans and carry out detailed field surveys - we have data from 2001 onwards. We share our work with local groups such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust and undertake farm walks. We host school educational visits and believe that the future of farming is built upon a shared open and honest dialogue with all. We are eager to establish an educational field study centre for farming where the focus is on regenerative and sustainable methods; our aim to increase carbon capture in the soils, prevent soil erosion, improve soil health, improve water quality and allow a positive and open dialogue with all.
We consider ourselves at the start of our journey. We believe the regenerative approach to farming is the key to the protection of our environment both locally, nationally and on a global scale.