Goings on at Bruern

It has been quite a year on the farm here at Bruern, with several new exciting projects underway. Whilst there is a lot of uncertainty about the future of farming (Brexit, Covid, climate change etc), I see this as a great opportunity to diversify in every area of the business. At Bruern, we are focusing on three key elements- creating (a) healthy soil by starting to convert to a regenerative system of farming which will produce (b) healthier food that (c) we can offer to our local community. Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people! 

On November 4th 2020, the estate office went through a bit of a transformation and by the end of the day we had turned it into what we now grandly call a Farm Shop. Many of you have visited since we opened and it has been a pleasure to meet and chat with so many of you from Milton and Shipton and the surrounding area. Jane Potter, a Milton native, is doing a superb job running the shop.

Some of you may remember the sunflower field -that has now been bagged for bird seed and bottled for cooking oil. Demand for pork, lamb and venison is keeping us very busy while our local honey (produced by George Wallace and Jonny Heathcote) seems to be very popular. We are extending the building to hopefully include a little café and to expand our range of our own and local produce.  If you’re interested in supplying us with your products, please contact Jane. 

By now you will have seen the field by the farm shop transformed with over 1000 fruit and nut trees having being planted. The field margins have been sown with wildflowers that will provide nectar for the bees and insects, shelter for invertebrates and small mammals and create a beautiful frame for the 42 acres of fields. Heritage wheat and barley has been planted between the rows. We will continue to mill the wheat and use it in the sourdough loaves we now sell in the shop. The barley will be malted and sold to a local brewery. 

The veggie box scheme will be up and running by May and continue through to November. I want this to be a fun, convenient and price competitive way to offer the community delicious fresh veg and fruit. I want to stress that our goal is to make good, healthy food available, geographically and cost-wise, to our local community.

I would also love this to be a chance for children to get their hands dirty and see how food is grown. If you are a teacher and would like to have a school visit, please let us know. We are also planning a pumpkin patch and yes, back by popular demand, we will be putting in a row or two of sunflowers! There will also be a hen house so that children can collect eggs and our pigs will be busy rooting around too. 

Finally, to the goings on at Home Farm. Thank you for all the wonderful comments on the silos. It was a whacky idea that I hope will work! (Editor’s note to readers: those silos are worth a look).One will be an office and one a holiday let. They were built by Dave Murphy, an old school friend who has a great eye for this kind of thing. The next project is turning the grain dryer into studio spaces for creative types who run artisanal businesses. My wife, Leslie will finally move Fifield Road Apothecary soap factory out of our dining room and into one of these new spaces.

Please stop by the farm shop even if it’s just to say hello or give any feedback and suggestions. As of writing (Feb 1st) I can be found most days heaping top soil in neat rows in the veggie patch. If you want to get involved in the garden, please let Jane know. We’d love to hear from you.

Here’s to a wonderful spring from an optimistic farmer.

Best

Henry Astor

jane@bruernfarms.co.uk
www.bruernfarms.co.uk

April-May 2021