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Farm to Fork Stories

High Hall Farm, Croglin

Who:

Jimmy and Tom Stobart

Where:

Croglin High Hall, Armathwaite, Brampton, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA4 9SG

What:

Kendal College Catering Students L3 Visit to High Hall Farm Oct 2nd 2023 Maximum Sustainable Farming or Finding the Sweet Spot

Key Low Carbon Aspect:

MSO Farming

About the Farm:

Tom & Jimmy are brothers who farm in the Eden Valley area on the outskirts of the Lake District in Cumbria. Their farm is a mixed hill farm starting at 600ft above sea level on our clover and herb rich swards, rising up to 2000ft on their extensively farmed heather moor that is also in a HLS natural England stewardship scheme.

They are passionate about producing healthy animals and healthy soils. A huge part of this is to mimic nature with their techno and paddock grazing systems that move animals daily on to fresh pasture, allowing the pasture to recover and sequester carbon.

Their cattle and sheep eat a diet of 100% grass, clover & herbs, whilst their happy pigs spend their lives roaming in the piggy pasture aptly named ‘the piggy bank’, rooting around native scrub and bringing out their inner piggyness.

The Stobart family also run the High Hall Camp site. Pitches are situated between their wildlife pond and the Croglin beck that meanders its way through the farm.

They are also certified members of The Greener Camping Club (GCC).

Image shows cattle being herded at High Hall, Cumbria

Focus:

In October Level 3 students from Kendal Catering College visited High Hall Farm in Armathwaite for a guided tour and food tasting session led by farmer Tom Stobart.

The Zero Carbon Cumbria Food Programme wanted to engage students with farms, farmers and produce – so that they have a better understanding of changes to sustainable farming practice and are better informed when it comes to selecting produce from the supply chain. Some of the students hadn’t been on a farm before or experienced being up close to livestock.

High Hall was a conventional mixed livestock farm. Tom talked about their transition toward Maximum Sustainable Output (MSO) and how adopting new grazing methods and approaches to their business management has changed their farm operation, increasing profitability; whilst allowing them to have a more relaxed, less intensive farming outlook providing both environmental benefits and a better return.

MSO farming – what is it?

Farming at the MSO point means “farming within the capacity of the landscape”. The MSO point is the level of output at which a farm is making best use of nature’s resources and is most profitable. MSO shows the volume of outputs that can be achieved before they need to be corrected with additional inputs to maintain production – so this might be costly additional fertilisers or feed. Needing to add additional inputs can mean that profitability for the farmer can deteriorate as outputs are introduced beyond MSO.

It is essentially “farming the sweet spot”.

There’s a great podcase here explaining how MSO works in practice: 

Farming at the maximum sustainable output | RASE Farm of the Future (podbean.com)

“In the second episode of the RASE Farm of the Future podcast, Martin Lines from the Nature Friendly Farming Network, joins Arran Redman from IfA and Natasha Smith from RASE to discuss how farm businesses can use the concept of MSO to improve profitability”.

 

Where can I find out more about Low Carbon practices?

The Low Carbon Food Programme in Cumbria have put together a handy list of external resources designed to help you learn and achieve your reduced carbon culinary goals. From tips to tables, facts to farming networks, we have compiled Videos, podcasts and web links to help.

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