For those who don't know us, the Philp family have been at Church Farm since 1944 when Arthur moved his family and business from Heathrow to make way for the airport.
In that time farming and the countryside has changed massively, but we are still farming in Waltham St Lawrence. As well as the 500 acres at Church Farm we also farm nearby surrounding areas, which is why you will see our tractors on the move in the village along with other agricultural vehicles belonging to neighbouring farms. [continued...]
By the time you read this hopefully spring will have officially sprung and the warmer weather will be upon us. As an arable farm we have no new born lambs to beckon in the new season, instead it's all about getting the crops to grow. If you take a walk along the footpath through the farm you will see wheat, barley and oilseed rape (the yellow stuff) growing in the fields. Come the autumn and you may well be enjoying our wheat in your bread, barley in your pint in the Bell, the rapeseed oil in a dressing on your salad or frying your chips.
At this time of year, we have finished drilling (planting) our spring crops for harvest in the summer. But there is no time off, you might have seen our sprayer with its long arms (booms) outstretched, fertilising the crops to help them grow and spraying off the weeds and pests, such as aphids and weevils. As the keen gardeners amongst you will know, we use fertiliser to give the plants more nutrients to grow.
Earlier in the year you may have noticed a number of tankers coming and going along Milley Road. These were filling up a lagoon in the middle of the farm with a bio fertiliser, which we then spread on the fields. This bio-fertiliser is a by-product of the food industry and is classified as green waste. It's a bit like compost. Many of you will diligently fill your black box with leftover food waste for the bin men to collect every Friday.
This waste then gets recycled to provide energy for homes and what is left is delivered to us. It's great stuff, as well as helping the crops grow it improves the soil quality for the following year and it is 100% natural. It also means we have dramatically reduced the amount of petrochemical fertiliser we use on the farm, which has to be good for the environment. However, there is one drawback. It can be a bit whiffy! This we know can be a problem to those who are down wind on a spreading day, but it quickly dissipates as the digestate, as it is called, breaks down into the soil. We only spread twice a year to help the crops grow, so this "country" aroma is only around briefly as the farming year moves on.
Soon, as the crops grow and ripen we will be preparing for harvest. Depending on what Mother Nature sends us, our busiest time of the year should start mid July, just in time for the summer holidays. If you have any comments or questions about the farm and what we get up to, do let us know and we can try and answer them here.
The Philp Family. 17 April 2017