ARTHUR Williams, the club chairman, welcomed members to the first meeting of 2014, and wished all present a very Happy New Year.
Over the years the club has been very fortunate in securing the services of superb presenters. This talk proved to be yet another inspirational evening, when we were both informed and entertained by the Princes.
Sue and Terry Prince from Beechenhill organic farm, Ilam, have established an organic farm combined with a sustainable tourist business. The 37 hectare farm was converted to organic status over a three year period from 1997.
Working with nature is the key to organic farming, and this approach permeates the lifestyle of the Prince family. The principles can be summarised as embracing health, ecology, fairness and care.
Organic milk finds a ready market, and achieves a premium price. All inputs are carefully controlled to ensure that the organic status is preserved at all stages of the farming.
Artificial fertilizers are never used, the excellent grass is supplemented by a diet that is based on pulses and wheat. Forty milking cows and 20 followers (Swedish bred) produce organic milk which is sold by retail and in bulk. Customers include a Muslim community in Birmingham who greatly value the high quality and provenance.
Sue and Terry very much value the opportunity to build links through food with ethnic minorities.
Terry explained that only in exceptional circumstances is the use of antibiotics entertained. Even when used in the treatment of mastitis, the milk is rejected until a period of 18 days has elapsed.
Natural methods of pest control were discussed, and the importance of building links with the local community by transparent methods of working was emphasised.
The farm supports a thriving community of birds, mammals and plants, which are much enjoyed by visitors and guests.
A pilot project reduced the carbon footprint from 41 tonnes to 14 tonnes by the application of a range of energy saving methods.
All tourist activities are based on Eco friendly principles. Eco weddings are very popular, and a prize is given for the most Eco friendly wedding of the year.
Following a vigorous Q and A session, Sue briefly described her interest in an ancient Swedish technique which uses egg tempura to create pictures which tell stories.
Sue has become a widely respected and award winning artist in this highly specialised technique. (Bonad style) It was not made clear to us if the eggs used in the art work are organic, but knowing something of the way in which the Princes work, you can bet on it.