The end of an era

Dear Cumbria Organics members and supporters,
After almost twenty years the Cumbria Organics group is no more! In the middle of April the remaining assets of the group, £3704.28 were transferred to the Cumbria Farmer Network account. We have entered into an agreement with the Network for the next three years and feel confident that this is the appropriate way forward.
CFN will put aside £1200 to pay for the upkeep of the CO website and to pay for the design costs of an updated CO leaflet of producers [if that’s what producers want]. CFN will hold a database of existing organic producers in Cumbria and signpost any enquiries to these producers. They will ensure that one technical event per year will have an ‘organic’ focus or is relevant to the CFN organic membership. They will also include relevant organic farming news and technical information in the CFN Newsletter.
It’s time to move on. Cumbria Organics served its purpose of bringing together organic producers to share their experiences and learn from each other. Hopefully we have increased awareness about local organic production by interacting with consumers at Agricultural Shows and Food Festivals and through the Organic Cumbria leaflets.
Many thanks to all members and committee members who have volunteered their time and enthusiasm over the years.
Good luck in everything you do in the future.
Joyce Brocklebank


FREE farmer event, run by The Farmer Network, Innovative Farmers and the Upper Nidderdale Facilitation Fund.


The Caldbeck Room, Newton Rigg College Conference Centre, Penrith CA11 0AH

Are you interested in field trials to look at ways of improving your soils, grazing, animal condition AND save money? What questions do you have that you would most like field trials to answer?

Our speaker is Welsh hill farmer Dafyyd Parry Jones. He farms a 190 hectare organic upland farm which has recently won awards at both Welsh and national levels, for its grass, lamb, beef, and farm buildings. Over the last two years, the March lambing sheep flock, which has a 160% scanning percentage, has been reared with zero concentrates, relying on winter grass, red clover silage and quality spring grass. He was part of an Innovative Farmers group that investigated the use of multi-species leys and their impact on animal performance and the nutritional quality of silage.

Innovative Farmers is a not-for-profit network that funds and supports farmer-led research. Practical ‘field labs’ are designed by farmers, on topics that matter to them, and supported by a researcher to bring scientific rigour. Helping to find lasting solutions to practical problems.

Tea, coffee and biscuits from 7.15pm

Sorry this is short notice, but we are able to get Dafyyd next week, as a previous event had to be cancelled.

To book you place or for more information, please contact Kate Gascoyne 01768 881462  or the Farmer Network office 01768 868615 or email

How to Harness Biology to Improve Land, Health and Profitability

An interesting event  including a site visit to one of our previous members.

Global field days to gain tips for reading the land.

An innovative movement in farming will be showcased at ‘Global Field Day Events’ featuring 2 Cumbrian and 2 Scottish farms.

The innovation, which promises improved animal health, reduced costs, increased resilience to drought and flood, and an overall increase in profits, is not a chemical solution but a biological one.

Sheila Cooke of 3LM, the organisation behind the event, says, ‘These events are a good news story. They signify an opportunity to become more resilient and less reliant on expensive inputs in order to thrive through the next, potentially turbulent, years in farming.’

Read more by following the link below.

Producer Conference Proceedings

The Organic Producers’ Conference proceedings are online

The 11th Organic Producers’ Conference Rising to the challenge: Practical organic farming solutions for an uncertain future was held on Wednesday 1st February and Thursday 2nd February 2017 at Conference Aston, Aston University, Birmingham, B4 7ET. Videos, presentations and abstracts are now online.

Susan Aglionby is awarded the Blamire medal


We are very proud to announce that long standing member of Cumbria Organics, Susan Aglionby OBE, has been awarded the 2017 Blamire medal.

The medal recognises outstanding contributions to agriculture in the old county of Cumberland. For Susan this was for her promotion of organic farming and Farmers’ Markets, for her services to environmental causes and for her work allowing access and involvement of the community in the countryside.

Congratulations Susan!

2017 AGM

When? Wednesday, 22nd March-put it in your diaries now!

Where? Slack House Farm, Gilsland, Cumbria, CA8 7DB

What time? 6.30pm 

This could well be our last AGM, or SGM [Special General Meeting] as a motion has been proposed to disband the group. If the motion is passed, a discussion will follow about the distribution of CO’s remaining funds. According to our Constitution ‘the residue should be given to a group with similar aims’.

If you are unable to be there in person, then please e-mail me your comments specifically about disbanding the Group and ideas for re-distributing the funds.

Please let Joyce know if you are able to come to the AGM, by the 15th March. Either by email on, phoning 01229716439 or texting 07929838001.

Get involved in designing

Join us at a launch meeting for this new SARIC-funded project comes to the UK

By 2018, will be available to the industry as a new web-based decision support platform for agriculture.

The platform will provide:

  • access to robust interpretation of soil quality indicators for soil quality in the UK
  • clear information on the links between these indicators, crop performance, yield and environmental impacts
  • information on soil sampling, site characterisation and recommended lab. analysis
  • information on management approaches to address any soil-based constraints to production
  • opportunity to compare own site-specific data with data collected in the region/ soil type

At the launch meetings (see programme below), we will:

  • introduce the project,
  • examine the sister framework already in place in Australia ( and
  • identify the opportunities for you to get involved in shaping the web-platform
  • provide opportunities to pilot the approach on farm and have soil quality information recorded

To register your interest to attend at each location, please Email the contact name listed

Reaseheath 1/6/2016 – 12.30 (with lunch) till 3pm  (

Loddington 3/6/2016 –  12.30 (with lunch) till 3pm (

Perth 9/6/2016  – 12.30 (with lunch) till 3pm (

Dumfries 10/6/2016 – 12.30 (with lunch) till 3pm  (

If you can’t get to one of these meetings, please call in and see us on the AHDB stand at Cereals (15-16th June)


Event -Livestock In Low Input Systems

The LILIS (Livestock In Low Input Systems) conference will look at the successes and challenges of upland livestock production in organic, upland and similar low-input systems.  Topics under discussion will be the use of appropriate breeds, marketing and branding, and a back-to-basics approach to the animal and its role in the farming system.  The conference will be held in farm buildings and your ticket will include a long lunch with plenty of time to chat. Conference delegates will also have the opportunity to join farm tours to look at challenges and solutions to upland farming, such as drainage, clover production and rush control.


Thursday, 9 June 2016 from 10:30 to 15:30 (BST)


Howside Organic Farm – Cleator Ennerdale, CA23 3AU


Soil Association webinars for farmers

A series of online seminars for all farmers is being delivered by the Soil Association, sharing knowledge from members of the Innovative Farmers network. Presenters include Soil Association staff, participating farmers and experts. Upcoming topics include Soil Life, Climate Smart Agriculture, and Getting Started with Social Media.
Farming UK (4 March 2016)
Learn more or become a member of Innovative Farmers here