Taking the plunge at Penbugle

Our rural farm with its peaceful pastures and superb scenery are part of the special Penbugle experience.
You can glamp or camp with us and thoroughly relax in the fields and meadows on our 260-acre organic working farm.
While we love you to come and stay with us, we are also fully committed to producing quality organic food that has a fully traceable provenance.
And what you see today is the result of our organic journey that took several years to achieve.
By taking the organic plunge, our farm encourages wildlife to flourish, and cuts out the use of pesticides and antibiotics.
And when we see the clear blue skies and golden fields, we know our hard work has been worth it.

Here’s how we did it ….

So one day we were gathered around our kitchen table, cups of tea in hand, and someone said: “Shall we go organic?” We’re not even sure who said it first, but that was the start of our journey.
When a farm decides to take the organic route, it takes two years to convert. We decided to go the ‘whole hog’ and convert both our land and our livestock. That meant 24 months of converting both at the same time.
This includes the Donhead Herds of pedigree South Devon and Red Ruby Devon cattle that graze in our pastures and our Lleyn and Polled Dorset Sheep.
And if you’re a regular reader of our blog, you will know we also have our lovely organic free-range eggs, laid by our cheerful chucks.
So we’re still not sure who was crazy enough to suggest it given our variety of livestock … that said, we’ve never looked back!

You might wonder how we controlled pests and hazards while we made the conversion. We had to use natural methods, such as effective crop rotation, while encouraging nature’s predators and improving the soil that in time gave our crops a natural resistance to these dangers.

Also organic farming means there’s more carbon in the soil and our farm should adapt to the strange changes in our weather. Look at this year as an example of unexpected meteorological conditions: the Beast from the East, a drought and the hottest summer for years …

Two years seems a long time …

Actually, it flew by, as during that period, we had to make big changes. While we had always produced the highest quality meat, eggs and crops, we had a huge goal to reach, and we were determined to do so. We could no longer use routine chemicals or antibiotics. The livestock feed also had to be organic, which is about as far as you can get from genetically modified types.

One of the biggest challenges with the organic journey is the paperwork. None of us are fans of this onerous task at the best of times; yet record-keeping took on a whole new level! Our files and forms had to be spot on as proof of the conversion while it was taking place while also future-proofing our processes going forward.

Big Brother (or Sister)

And then of course you can’t make such a huge change without someone keeping an eye on you. This is an essential part of the process, and ensures that organic farmers are sticking to the rules – otherwise, there would be little point in taking on such a huge challenge.

So there are two certifying bodies that become an integral part of the organic process. One of them is the Organic Farmers & Growers, the other is the Soil Association. Their qualified staff kept us on the straight and narrow, and we continue to pay a licence fee to the OFG so our status is maintained each year. We are inspected annually, too. By doing this, the integrity of organic standards is maintained. It’s a huge entity, as all aspects of going organic need to tick those boxes.

We’ve always loved our animals and their welfare is at the heart of our farm. If you are a meat eater or an egg lover, our produce has a fully traceable provenance and is as naturally tasty as it can possibly be, which can only be a good thing!

So as you enjoy your bell tent, you Wigwam® Cabin or your camping pitch, you’re safe in the knowledge that we care about our farm and our guests in every way we can. See you soon!