Farming in Protected Landscapes - Smithy Garth Farm23 March 2023
Smithy Garth is not like your typical Lakeland farm. It was built in 1997 in the centre of Penruddock village, off the A66 between Penrith and Keswick, and has an unusual layout, with many parcels of land all around the village. Farmers Hazel and Garry started off with 20 acres, how own 100 and rent a further 160. Their farming ethos is untraditional too – less but better, quality over quantity, leave the farm in a better state than it started out in.
Right from the word go, Hazel and Garry agreed that they would not commercially overwork the land and that they would do more for nature. As first-generation farmers not burdened by expectations and traditions, they were free to experiment, make and learn from mistakes, and enjoy their successes.
They deliberately farm a broad selection of animals – cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, even bees. Their choice of livestock helps to sustain the farm, financially and environmentally. Stock are rotated, only natural fertilisers used, and animals only fed on grass. This is coupled with substantial work to boost nature. Hedgerows are planted and left to go wild. Pastures are rested to allow regrowth, encouraging grass and wildflower diversity, and soil health.
This regenerative approach sees nature flourish. Red squirrels, barn owls and kestrels all populate the farmland. Hazel and Gary’s way of farming reflects the Lake District’s role as the birthplace of landscape conservation, a pillar of the Lakes’ World Heritage status. It is here that the ideas of National Parks and the National Trust were originally formed. And it is here that new ways of achieving landscape and nature conservation are addressed through new ways of farming, such as seen at Smithy Garth.
Smithy Garth’s produce – beef, pork, hogget, eggs and honey – are available as dictated by the seasons, in the farm shop and its chest freezers. Hazel and Garry also want to help locals and visitors understand how modern farms work and where their food comes from. Throughout the year, they host farm tours and sheepdog demonstrations. Come along and let Hazel and Garry’s passion inspire you. Check www.millerfarming.co.uk for details.