It would seem a little corner of Dorset is somewhere which attracts very special people. Whilst staying with Pat Bowcock at Ourganics, I was privileged to also meet two of the real pioneers of organic farming – Josephine and Arthur Pearse of Tamarisk Farm. They started growing food there following organic methods over 45 years ago!
Tamarisk Farm is situated on the coast behind the Chesil Beach in Lyme bay. The Pearse family were amongst the early members of the Soil Association and have grown wholesome food to organic standards since 1960. Its a mixed of about 600 acres, and now divided in its use among the now grown-up children of Josephine and Arthur, whilst they continue to work their own small plot. There is a market garden is of about 2 acres of fruit and vegetable, and about 100 acres in arable rotation of which about a third is in cereals in any one year. The rest of the land is in long term pasture or scrub and other semi natural habitats on which is grazed a flock of Dorset Down cross sheep, a herd of North Devon “Ruby Red” cattle and horses and ponies for work and pleasure.
Close to the house is a small farm shop, another of Josephine and Arthur’s area of responsibility and which sells meat (beef, lamb, mutton & hogget), vegetables and wholemeal flour (wheat and rye). The family maintain a variety of small but linked enterprises to provide a buffer against the vagaries of the weather and the market and to make life interesting!
Conservation is a thread which runs through all of them. With sensitive management and using no herbicides, pesticides or artificial fertilisers a diverse flora and fauna have been developed. The farm has several habitats of local and national significance, including reed bed, unimproved native pasture, wet meadow, scrub, ponds, rock outcrops and dry-stone walls and its diverse flora and fauna includes several unusual arable weeds, nine species of orchids, nit grass, adder’s tongue fern, dormouse, Great Crested Newts, adder, grass snake, lizard, water vole, sky lark, nightingale, Chetti’s warbler, small eggar moth, several species of bat and 9 different birds of prey resident or present intermittently!
Also working small part of the land at Tamarisk is Bee Laughton, featured on an earlier post. Bee, author of Surviving and Thriving on the Land, had worked a small patch at Tamarisk earlier in her growing career. Today she returns to her old stomping ground and manages an acre or so of field crops and market garden with the produce sold alongside the rest of Tamarisk output.
I must also record here meeting up with the local mobile veg van which was on its route around local villages when I drove from Ourganics to Tamarisk. Run by Laurie Walters, the ‘Real Food Shop‘ works around the Jurassic Coast serves up local produce, meat, dairy and preserves from the Peasant Evolution Producers Cooperative, a network of organic smallholders.
For more on Tamarisk Organics, see the farms website.
[Double clicking on any of the images below will open up that image up in a slideshow format. You can then run the slide show using ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons. Personally I prefer to go also to full screen having opened the slide show – F11 on my PC, don’t forget to get out of full screen is the same button , not ESC]