As responsible guardians of our land, we constantly strive to run our farm sustainably.
Reducing Produce Waste
To minimise asparagus waste, we feed the surplus trimmings of our asparagus post grading to our herd of 400 goats on the farm daily during harvest. This provides our new Mums and kids with a great nutrient boost after kidding every year.
Particularly at the start of our asparagus season, we observe slightly crooked spears emerging when they first break through the soil. Rather than dispose of spears that are not perfectly poker straight, we package these as our “Wonky” grade asparagus. These spears are harvested at the same time as our Class A and B grades so are identical in freshness but are just a bit kinky!
By growing asparagus, a perineal crop which remains in the soil from 8-10 years, we have created a new habitat for wildlife on the farm, in particular the endangered bird, the lapwing. This unusual bird, distinguished by its unique wispy crest, breeds in loose colonies of undisturbed grounds. Our asparagus fields are favoured by nesting lapwings because the bare ground and low vegetation allows the adults to see approaching predators. We now have a small colony of lapwings on the farm which have returned every year since we planted our asparagus.
The males perform spectacular arial acrobatics, which provide endless entertainment when we are harvesting our asparagus. It is a pleasure to hear the lapwings unusual “wheep, wheep” call on the farm call which is not dissimilar to the theremin instrument. We place markers on our asparagus field to flag up where the lapwings nest are as so not to disturb them during harvest.
We are now monitoring lapwings as part of a RSBP project that we are involved with to increase bird species on farmland. The main focus of our collaboration with the RSBP is to help save Scotland’s fastest declining bird, the corn bunting, aka “The Fat Man of the Barley”, due its rotund appearance and love of cereals.
Our corn bunting management project involves giving up some of our land to establish an area of wild bird cover crop, which provides safe nesting places, insect-rich summer foraging habitats and sources of winter seed food. These changes on our farm will be a major step towards saving this iconic bird from extinction. We have spotted several corn bunting on our farm since we start back in 2016, which is increasing ever year.