On this page you’ll learn about how we run the farm and the measures we’ve taken to reduce our carbon footprint.
Marshfield Farm sits eight miles north of the City of Bath on the edge of the rolling Cotswold Hills. The farm comprises nearly 1,000 acres of land on which we grow crops and rear dairy cows. We are a working farm that also produces ice cream; every process is carried out on the farm itself. We grow the food for the cows, the cows graze the pastures and produce the milk that goes into the ice creams, the ice cream. The ice cream and sorbets are all made in a converted cowshed on the farm and stored in freezers in another farm building. Finally, the finished product is enjoyed in our new ice cream parlour on the farm or transported to shops and tourist sites across the country. We like to use the phrase “Cow to Cone”! Watch our Cow to Cone video here.
We have always endeavoured to minimise our environmental footprint and have always embraced new green energy developments. Read about them below.
In 1999, we converted the farm to organic. The farm is now run according to Soil Association standards, which means self-sufficiency and sustainability are key priorities.
We grow a range of organic crops including wheat, barley and oats. We also make silage and hay from grass which feeds the cows during the winter months. Organic farming uses no artificial fertilisers or pesticides. We keep the soil fertile with manure from our cows, crop rotation, fallow periods for fields, and planting clover to fix nitrogen from the air.
Our herd of over 250 Friesian cows graze free on the lush meadows for nine months of the year and are housed indoors over the winter. The farm lies on classic Cotswold brash that is very free draining; this means we’re able to keep our cows outdoors for much longer than in other parts of the country. We endeavour to keep our herd of cows healthy and disease free. Organic guidelines stipulate that farmers minimise their use of antibiotics. ‘Blanket’ treating a herd of cows with antibiotics is prohibited. The outputs in organic farming are lower than conventional farming – in our case this means lower milk production. This means a better quality of life and less stress which can often lower the incidence of disease.
We grow over 95% of the food and bedding needs of our cows. Each cow drinks around 80 litres of water a day – that’s about a bathtub full! Our own borehole on the farm serves all their water requirments. All waste produced by the cows (aka cow pats!) is made into compost and returned to the soil to improve its fertility. The milk our cows produce is the main ingredient in our ice creams. A single cow will produce up to 50 litres of milk every day. About two thirds of the milk produced goes into our ice creams – the rest is sent to local dairies to be bottled.
Organic farming encourages a return of wild flowers and wildlife. A study in The Journal of Applied Ecology in 2005 suggested that organic farms have 50% more wildlife than non-organic farms. By our count, we have over 70 different bird species on the farm. These include Skylarks, Lapwings, Fieldfares, English Partridge and Reed Buntings. Water voles live on the banks of our streams and our healthy population of hares put on a great show during the breeding season. Muntjac and roe deer can often be seen grazing near the woods in the early morning. Every now and again we get a stray cat setting up home in one of the farm buildings – they live on saucers of calf milk and a few local mice!
We share the land with a variety of wildlife and actively encourages the proliferation of both fauna and flora. We still retain many of the original hedges, which were planted in the 1860s. We employ traditional hedge trimming practices that contribute to the beauty of the landscape and provide an excellent habitat for birds, insects and small animals. Hedge trimming takes place outside the bird breeding season to prevent disruption to breeding. Wildflowers are encouraged around hedges and a pond has been created to provide a habitat for a variety of species including dragonflies and herons. Ongoing tree planting of native species is practiced on the farm and we boast a number of ancient oaks.
Here’s a bit about the measures we’ve taken to be at the forefront of green energy on the farm and in the ice cream factory…
Wood pellet boiler: Our wood pellet boiler was installed in December 2012 and is 100% carbon neutral. The boiler uses sustainable wood from the New Forest and now heats all the water used in our milking parlour, ice cream factory and office. Thanks to Soil Association in Bristol for supplying our latest bit of green kit.
Solar panels: Our solar panels were installed in September 2011 and provide more than 20% of all our electricity requirements. We have 220 photovoltaic solar panels on the roofs of several of our farm buildings, which create 50kw of energy every year – that’s the same amount of electricity 12 homes would use in a year. The panels also produce energy on cloudy days.
Borehole: The borehole on our farm provides all the water we use on the farm and in the office. This means we avoid needing to have water pumped to us from a distant reservoir.
Heat Recovery System: When our cows are milked, their milk comes out warm (37degrees). This heat is recovered or ‘captured’ using our heat exchanger. It is then used to heat the water needed to wash down the milking parlour every day. This saves 70% of the energy required to heat the water before we clean the parlour. At the same time this process serves to cool the milk, which saves on cooling costs.
Food miles: 75% of our ingredients come from within a 50-mile radius of the farm. All the lovely flavours of ice cream and sorbet we make are entirely natural and locally sourced where possible – the brownie pieces in our Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream are from local bakery Marshfield Bakery and the cream and clotted cream we use all comes from local dairies. Because all our ice creams and sorbets are made on the farm, the milking parlour is literally just across the farmyard from the ice creamery, meaning a lot of our travel is on foot.
Cold stores: The walls in our cold stores (where we keep the finished ice creams and sorbets) are incredibly efficient at holding in the temperature, so there’s minimal loss of energy.
Wind turbine: Sadly our application for installing a wind turbine to supply all our electricity were turned down. But we are always on the lookout for new sustainable energy installations that will make us even more energy efficient.