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April Update

Spring seems to have finally arrived! The past month has mainly consisted of lambing, farm visits, new recruits, and trying to keep up with the weather! Here we are again with our monthly round up of what’s been happening on the farm.

LEAF Farming and Integrated Farm Management

It was a pleasure to welcome LEAF CEO, David Webster, to the farm, alongside Andy Guy, where we discussed all things IFM. Integrated Farm Management is a farm business approach that considers all aspects concerning climate, nature, economy, and society in order to farm in the most efficient and sustainable way. 

We demonstrated how Nonington Farms has implemented practical solutions all around the farm with all the above considerations in mind; for example, installing rainwater harvesting tanks to retain and reuse water, bio filters and herbal leys to benefit soil health. 

Although we launched as a LEAF Demonstration farm in 2020, it was virtually as we were in the middle of the pandemic. So we are delighted to announce, 4 years later, that we are going to be physically launching on 22nd May. Tickets can be ordered to confirm your place on eventbrite, but there are only a few places remaining. 

Lambing season

Lambing started in early April which is always a very busy time. Due to the variable weather, we were glad to have delayed the start to early April, when grass growth began in earnest. Lambing was fairly straightforward and we were happy with our final lambing percentages for an outdoor lambing system. We also helped out a friend who had just had her own baby by having 10 orphan lambs. All the children who have come on to the farm in the past month have therefore enjoyed bottle feeding lambs. 

Now the sheep are on the herbal ley which is in it’s second year of establishment, and it’s great to see how much growth the lambs are therefore putting on due to improved milk quality. All the lambs will be pasture fed, mobile grazed and slowly and sustainably reared. 

Education Officer

Thanks to our FIPL grant, we have been able to employ an Education Officer who has not only hit the ground running but is taking our Learn side of the business to new levels. Since Laure joined the team, we have had over 230 children between the ages of 6 and 16 visit the farm: scouts, young birders, schools and non-school. Not only have they been learning about regen farming and all the different aspects that this entails, but they have also been involved in practical activities such as moving sheep and feeding turtle doves. 

On the farm

After a 6.5 month drilling campaign we have finished! A break in the weather from the incessant rain (and inevitable slug pressures) meant that we have finally finished getting all our crops in the ground, just in time for the warmer weather to increase soil temperatures.

It was a mammoth effort, so to celebrate the team went to Oast Bakery in Margate, where the amazing baker Will made them all a loaf of bread from our own flour! Many thanks to our team who have needed a lot of patience & determination to get this done.