Tamarisk Farm is an organic mixed family farm operating on 180 acres, plus a further 400 acres rented from the National Trust. The main enterprises are a 25-cow beef suckler herd of Red Devon cattle and 180 ewes, mainly Dorset Down, Shetland and Jacob, and 90 acres in arable rotation, growing wheat, rye, barley, oats and drying peas.
The land is poor quality, but this results in a diverse range of wildlife habitats. By running cattle and sheep extensively over Tamarisk’s pastures the blackthorn scrub is kept at bay and a wide range of wildflowers, insects, birds and reptiles are able to live alongside the livestock. Unusual plants such 9 species of orchid, grass vetchling and dyers greenweed, resident and migratory birds including kestrels, barn owls, hobby, marlin and corn bunting, as well as dormice and great crested newts are all found on the farm. The livestock breeds have been chosen for their ability to thrive on poor quality grazing, and are fed exclusively on fresh grass, hay and a very small bit of home-grown grain for the ewes prior to lambing. The farm is currently supported by the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.
To remain viable, the farm has developed a range of income streams, centred around producing high quality organic meat, cereals and wool for local markets. A small farm shop sells a meat, home-milled stone ground wheat and rye flour, peas, free range eggs from hens fed on home grown cereal, and a wide range of naturally coloured wools. Other produce is sold into local supply chains, such as cleaned grains to local water mills or meat to local butchers’ shops, restaurants and abattoirs. Many of the cattle are sold as store cattle at one year old to the Organic Livestock Marketing Company.
Tamarisk Farm sees public engagement as an important part of its role. Despite no longer receiving support for visits other than for school age children, educational farm events are offered to people of all ages. Alongside the farm’s annual open day, a series of visits focused on aspects such as lambing, the arable and milling enterprises, wildflower identification and ways wool can be used, give visitors an opportunity to learn about how food production and nature conservation can occur simultaneously on the same piece of land.