Northwood Farm is a 134 ha former beef and dairy farm in Dorset/England that is transiting to veganic cereal growing and preparing to become certified according to the Biocyclic Vegan Standard.
Laurence Candy, the owner of Northwood Farm, had begun the conversion from conventional farming to organic in 2019. At the time, changing supermarket requirements would have meant a large financial investment in the farm with a subsequent increase in herd size to cover costs. Laurence was aware of the environmental impact that a larger, more intensive enterprise would have, as well as how the agrochemicals used on the farm affected its biodiversity, soil, and carbon footprint. Laurence chose instead to add value to the dairy enterprise by producing organic milk. By the autumn of 2020, however, the demand for organic milk had fallen and Laurence’s contract ended. It was time to look for other options.
Contrary to popular farming narratives, Laurence had heard that it was possible to farm organically without livestock. He had suspected that livestock was non-essential to organic farming based upon his own experience, and after an intensive time of investigation he became convinced that crops could be grown without animal inputs. Looking for the most suitable and economically viable way to fully convert to a veganic farming system, he came across the Biocyclic Vegan Standard which perfectly matched his requirements, especially when it comes to the possibility of growing cereals and also with respect to a necessary transition period from animal husbandry to a fully plant-based farming system.
“I can honestly say, it’s time I should stop keeping animals. Having seen life taken away, it’s not healthy for me to keep having to send animals to market. It only magnifies those experiences. Farmers run businesses, but at the end of the day we are human beings.”
“I remember I had some beef animals to sell, but I couldn’t do it; this was probably the first time I had to fight with my conscience.”
“There’s no way of saying ‘business as usual’. It’s about telling the truth at the end of the day and facing the facts. We’ve got to get to net zero as soon as possible and that will mean a reduction in global livestock numbers; there’s no other way of doing it in the timescale. We are going to have to adopt more plant-based diets very soon.”
“The vegan community needs to go to the Government and say, ‘we’ve got an agricultural system that is sustainable, is sequestering carbon, and it works; let’s run with this!’ If we’re going to eat differently it only makes sense to do it veganically. It’s not a niche, hippy system; veganics does tick all the boxes. The more I look into it, the more I learn; it does solve all the problems.”
The meat and dairy farmers who are going vegan – BBC News May 2022
Manston, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, England DT10 1HD