Visiting an organic farm in the UK is important because it allows and encourages the consumer to directly experience life on the farm. Society is disconnected from the land, and there is no better way of changing that than seeing how land is worked on a working farm.
Farming in the UK has had several bad years, from foot and mouth disease, and recent outbreaks of avian bird flu in Norfolk, and changing weather patterns causing variable agricultural conditions.
However, the state of the organic farming world is in very good shape. Indeed, many farmers and suppliers who grow and produce organic fruit, vegetables and meat and fish products, will say that they are experiencing the busiest period ever, as they approach Christmas, with orders piling up and demand exceeding availability.
How to Find an Organic Farm
The best and most direct way to find and gain access to a local organic farm is to talk to farmers and producers at the local farmer’s market. Here, local growers and producers will gather to sell direct to the public their goods, and will be delighted to welcome (at an appropriate time) visitors who want to see for themselves where their food comes from.
Another way to find the details and contact info for organic farms in the locality, or indeed in any area within the UK, is to contact the Soil Association (SA). They encourage the public to visit farms, which are organically certified by them, and publicise farms which welcome visits. On the SA website, along with the contact details of each farm, it is possible to see what facilities exist at each farm; i.e a tea shop, or guided tours, or even a farm shop, where the produce can be bought on the spot.
What to Expect on a Visit to an Organic Farm
Farms are wonderful environments in which to learn about the agricultural world. Farms with animals, be they cattle, chickens, hens or geese; give an insight into rearing livestock or poultry and the balance between animal welfare and meat production. If a consumer has the stomach for it, comparison visits to chicken farms that are organic, and those which aren’t, might be worthwhile. Animal welfare and the ‘free range’ debate are important topics, which all consumers should consider.
Consumers visiting an organic farm should consider the season: What crops are currently growing, and how is the farmer preparing for the next growing cycle? Other questions worth raising with the farmer include: How are the crops sold – directly to the public, or through middlemen to supermarkets and organic stores? What have been the benefits of conversion to organic farming (and any disadvantages)?
Finally, eating the produce grown on an organic farm is the crucial test. Some farmers allow the public turn up and to ‘pick your own’. This is almost as wonderful as growing your own fruit and vegetables. Freshness and quality of taste is the best virtue for all types of food, whether organic or not. If the food is good, and the farm is local, the farmer and the consumer have established a food relationship that will last and develop.