Growers & makers

David and Helen Camp

Helen and David supply us with organic beef, lamb, and vegetables from their farm near us in South Devon, on the Sharpham Estate, with a beautiful view down the valley of the River Dart. They are members of the South Devon Organic Producers cooperative. The Camp family are quite new to veg, having recently diversified their farm from just rearing organic beef, lamb, and a small herd of goats.

“It’s good to see so much of the farm’s land doing well enough to grow veg,” says Helen, “because you’ve got to put back before you can take out. We do that by rotating livestock through the fields and building up soil fertility, which is becoming known as ‘regenerative farming’.”

Organic farming has the highest welfare standards of any certification, including free range – meaning that organic livestock spend the vast majority of their lives outside, grazing on fresh pasture. And it’s not just better for the animals; it’s also good for the farm.

“When cows move through the fields (called ‘mobile’ or ‘mob’ grazing), rather than just grazing down one field, they actually accelerate the growth of plants,” the Camps explain.

“Essentially what we’re doing is harvesting sunlight, and turning it into nutrients that we can eat. And in order to do that, we convert it through an animal. If you just grew crop after crop of vegetables, you would keep pulling nutrients from the soil without putting anything back. That’s why they’ve got big dust bowls in America, where they’ve tilled an arable crop for years and there’s no organic matter left in the soil; it just blows away.”

“It’s definitely challenging, and there’s days where you wonder why you decided to do anything to do with vegetables at all – but then you get a decent crop ready to harvest, and it’s so rewarding... when the finished product is right, it makes it all worth it.”

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