It is fairly damp in Sussex but we should spare a thought for those living and farming in parts of the UK, France and Italy where they are already under water.
There really is a spectacular change in the climate as revealed by the exceptionally relentless rainfall, strong winds and drought conditions we have been experiencing over the past few years.
All of this put together with the fluctuating global prices for cereals, meat, dairy and wool, and other influences are the reason why those of us who are able to, and are in the right geographical location, must diversify alongside our traditional farming practices, which are so important to maintain in order to support the ecology and historic nature of the British countryside.
Small family farms such as ours, are most able to adapt nimbly towards sustainable diversification, such as we are about to embark upon at Ote Hall Farm.
The Godman family have owned and managed Ote Hall and the surrounding farm land, despite occasional historic interruptions, for the past 500 years. If we wish to future proof and maintain appropriately this unique and very beautiful property and farming business, for the next 100 years, it is now essential that we branch out into a new enterprise.
This week we are submitting a planning application to Mid Sussex District Council, to build a Farm Shop and Tea Room, adjacent to the existing farm buildings. This enterprise will help support the farm as we cope with climate change, which has already had a significant impact upon the farm’s income, and help to cancel out the negative effects of the soon to be implemented Agriculture Bill, by ensuring that the farm can weather the financial storms, as well as actual and proverbial.
The local community which we have consulted widely, have been hugely positive and supportive of our intention to build the Farm Shop and Tea Room. We have already received many encouraging messages, most stating their approval and delight at the prospect of being able to shop for local produce at Ote Hall, and enjoy the views while enjoying a coffee and something to eat whilst out on their daily walk round the farm. Sadly the days of local independent produce shops are now few and far between.
Interesting data has emerged which shows that a surprisingly large percentage of those who relied upon weekly deliveries from supermarkets during lockdown have continued to receive a delivery, and so avoid their weekly outing to the shops.
It also appears that this trend is rising. As we hear daily that many companies are now deciding their employees should continue to work from home, on a more permanent basis, I am wondering just what these trends and developments will have upon the health of the nation?
With a significant percentage of the population, particularly those living in towns, cities and suburbia, confined to their sitting rooms, dining room and kitchen tables, I can see an explosion of obesity, heart disease and mental health issues.
Those of us living in the countryside, rural villages and market towns, are fortunate as we are far more incentivised and used to getting out and about. Added to which if we have the opportunity to walk to our local farm shops and enjoy a meal while looking out across green fields and the beautiful countryside, we are not only hugely privileged, but undoubtedly will keep fitter due to taking the exercise, and being able to buy healthy, local and unprocessed produce.
Find out more about the Ote Hall Farm Shop & Tea Room - http://otehallfarm.co.uk/ote-hall-farm-shop-tea-room/