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Wild Shropshire Farm and Lab

Farm

In this way, the farm takes in all recyclable materials that can be used and itself produces no waste, which fits in with the restaurant’s “zero waste” policy. Once the yearly cycle has been achieved, the farm’s own seed will be saved meaning less input from external sources. All seed that is currently brought in is as far as possible from organic suppliers.

 

Although all vegetable types are being grown, priority is given to those vegetables that are not readily available locally, reducing food miles in those slightly more unusual crops. It is the target, however, to produce all crops that the restaurant requires. There is no animal husbandry, all meat, fish etc., being sourced from local suppliers. Beehives are however kept on site. Initially these are being looked after by external bee-keepers but the intention is to add to our knowledge and eventually keep our own bees. 

 

Fruit trees have also been planted, and it is intended to add more to this small orchard.

Five large second hand water tanks (IBCs) have been installed to collect rainwater from the shed rooves and the roof of the compost area to reduce reliance on mains water.
 
Planned projects include a pond to help increase biodiversity of the site. Every piece of work carried out at the farm is assessed for its environmental impact and we aim in this way to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire business as much as possible.

 


Geoff Turner
Farm and Sustainability Manager
Wild Shropshire Restaurant
07766685076

 

Wild Shropshire Farm is a one acre plot situated near the restaurant in North Shropshire. This land was donated by James’ parents-in-law when they retired from their long-standing farm, this piece being held back from the sale. It was previously registered organic and had been cattle pasture for many years, so the soil structure was already undisturbed and in excellent condition. When the farm was started in March 2023, it was decided to grow the produce using organic methods, that is with no weedkillers, pesticides or artificial fertilisers. 

 

The method that best fitted everything that we wanted to achieve was Charles Dowding’s “no-dig” method, which involves disturbing the existing soil structure as little as possible. In short, the existing vegetation is mowed near to the soil surface and then covered with several layers of plain brown cardboard. This is then covered over with a thick layer of compost (bought in initially, peat free) and the vegetables planted in this top layer. By the time the vegetables need deeper soil, the cardboard has rotted away giving carbon to it, which the worms take down into the existing soil with compost adding goodness to it in a natural way. Some of the stronger perennial weeds such as dandelions will come through this, but they are continuously hand-pulled and become weaker over time, eventually disappearing altogether. Further compost is added once per year to each bed, this time being generated in a “hot composting” system, using food waste (and some other waste) from the restaurant and green waste from the farm itself. 

 

All development on the farm, raised beds for herbs, compost bins etc., is constructed from re-used or recycled materials where possible. Even the toolshed was bought in second-hand. This very much fits in with Wild Shropshire’s ethos of having as little impact on the environment as possible. This also includes a second hand polytunnel frame bought in from a local farm. This polytunnel is used for raising plants through their initial sewing and potting-on phases, growing more tender crops, and overwintering to ensure an all year round supply.

 

The produce itself is used in one of three ways. Firstly, it is grown to be used in the restaurant dishes. Secondly, excess produce is passed to the Wild Shropshire Lab, where various processes are used such as distillation, dehydration, preservation, fermentation etc., to extract flavours and create additional products for use in the restaurant. Thirdly, any other unused produce (including leaves, stalks, roots etc.,) which cannot be used in either restaurant or lab is used in the composting system to create organic matter for the following year.

 

Lab

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The Wild Shropshire Lab began as a small dream of James', which as most of James' dreams, became a bit bigger and more expensive than originally intentioned.

 

Finding its home in a decommissioned shipping container near to our Farm, it has been created to be a center for fermentation, experimentation, ideas, and occasional failures.

It is our way of preserving different characteristics of each natural season and bringing those characteristics into the next in ways that may be unexpected or unconventional.

 

Using modern high tech equipment such as our rotary evaporator, centrifuge, and of course vac-packing, sous vide-ing, and dehydrating  in a place where we can work on ideas away from the kitchen in a purpose-built space, we are able to close the cycle of waste by conserving any produce from the farm and restaurant through various preservation techniques such as koji and salt curing. 

Future endeavours with the farm and lab together will ideally see us able to bring some of our unique ferments to you, our guests, at home. We would love to be able to share the excitement and flavours that are cultivated and created with intrigue and occasional trepidation. 

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