A hard-working couple, who started their farming careers five years ago, are one step closer to getting their first farm. The new tenants of the National Trust’s Land End Farm near Kendal moved into the centuries old farm on Friday 10 August to start their life there by living in a caravan.
Over the next two years David and Bekka Corrie-Close from The Horned Beef Company will work with the National Trust on plans for the future of the farm which needs significant investment, including the farmhouse.
It’s a landmark moment for the couple, who are in their thirties. Starting with nothing, and living in a yurt with no facilities, they began by attracting £30,000 of crowdfunding to buy cows. They increased herd numbers, leased less productive fields spread over a 15 mile radius and became livestock keepers and land managers. Today they own and tend a 100-head herd of native breeds whose premium meat, when available, sells out within 36 hours.
Having a farm base will mean much less travel time to check on animals, although some of the herd will graze on land away from Lane End. Hay and silage cut from the fields next to the farm is easily transported and stored in the barns.
David, now a full-time farmer, gave up his job whilst Bekka, an ecologist, works part-time to help provide an income.
“We have had to be innovative to make our dream come true and farm in the way we want to. It’s incredibly hard and rewarding work which seems to be winning us a lot of public support. We began by attracting finance using a crowd-funding model; our investors literally get a tasty return each year in the form of some great meat. We lease parcels of less productive farmland from the National Trust and other like-minded landowners who want to see nature benefitting from low intensity grazing. We use traditional methods which are good for nature and produce a quality product.
“We’re not a typical farming business, but like most farmers we are doing what is right for us and where we farm. We have grown quickly and we are at the stage where we need a farming base to take The Horned Beef Company to the next level. In the National Trust we have a landlord who is on the same page as us; sympathetic to the environment and conservation and who understands a business that is operating to achieve those things.
“The next two years at Lane End Farm will test us further and bring us one step closer to having a sustainable farming business” adds David Corrie-Close.
Gemma Wren from the National Trust who will be working with the Corrie-Closes at Lane End Farm says:
“We know how hard farming is. It requires a complex set of skills from business acumen to animal husbandry. We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with David and Bekka. We are playing our part by managing our own land for the benefit of nature. It’s an unprecedented time for agriculture in terms of what future subsidies will look like and how we balance the needs of the land with what we all want from it.”
Neighbours of the Corrie-Closes include two other farms on the National Trust’s Sizergh Estate which the public can access and walk to from Sizergh Castle. The National Trust owns 90 farms in the Lake District. During the next 5-10 years the Trust believes other farms may become available to let. They are keen to hear from people with farming experience who share the Trust’s farming ethos. Anyone who is interested in finding out more can contact Will Cleasby, Farming Advisor for the National Trust in the Lake District.
Find out more about farming in the Lake District at nationaltrust.org.uk/farming-in-the-lakes.