Looking after our environment is a priority – not only do we live and work here, it makes good business sense too!
Hugh Lowe Farms is a member of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), an organization which encourages responsible farming practices and measures our performance against key criteria.
We have a Whole Farm Environmental Plan, encompassing conservation, waste management, water management, recycling, energy efficiency and crop protection policies. Our tunnels are managed sensitively, and we plant and maintain windbreaks and hedges as screens within the landscape. We have been helped by advisors from FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Action Group www.fwag.org.uk) to draw up these targets. Everybody working here has learnt about the importance of environmental considerations in the production of soft fruit and we are keen to involve them in everything they do.
One key aspect is the monitoring of 'indicator species' around the farm. We have identified key birds, mammals, insects and plants and by recording their incidence we will see if their numbers are increasing year on year. Examples are skylarks, hares, beneficial insects such as predatory spider mites, hoverflies and ladybirds, and orchids.
Hugh Lowe Farms Ltd is committed to managing land and producing food in an environmentally responsible manner, compliant with all regulatory and legislative requirements.
Our policy is to:
- Enhance the landscape and wildlife value of the farm
- Reduce waste, sending no plastic waste to landfill
- Optimise energy efficiency
- Optimise water use efficiency
- Use integrated crop management for crop protection
- Protect beneficial insects especially bees and other pollinators
- Protect and enhance our soils and to use sustainable substrates
- Protect human health through our health & safety and customer care policies
- Maximise local sales so we can reduce the food miles our berries travel.
We are indebted to the RSPB Farmer - Volunteer Alliance project for helping with the bird surveys over many years. www.rspb.org.
Some of the birds recently found on the farm
- Barn Owl
- Blue Tit
- Canada Goose
- Carrion Crow
- Coal Tit
- Collared Dove
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Green Woodpecker
- Great Tit
- Grey Wagtail
- Greylag Goose
- House Martin
- Little Owl
- Long-tailed Tit
- Mistle Thrush
- Pied Wagtail
- Reed Warbler
- Song Thrush
- Stock Dove
Tunnels are essential for our farming business. We have been using tunnels for over 20 years to:
- Protect the crop from rain damage
- Extend the cropping season from May - October
- Reduce the use of sprays
- Provide reliable predictable crops for our customers
- Improve working conditions for husbandry and harvest
To continue our long established soft fruit farming business we need to continue using polytunnels.
We can demonstrate that
Tunnels give sustainable benefits to the local and national economy:
- substituting for imported fruit
- reducing food miles
- supporting local jobs and agricultural communities
Tunnels also have a positive effect on the environment by:
- creating additional habitats for wildlife
- reducing energy use
- promoting efficient water use
- reducing the need for pesticides
This is a balanced farm: over 75% of the land is either:
- in arable crops – resting in the rotation between soft fruit crops
- uncropped but managed for wildlife as grassland, margins or trees.