• There’s one day in the year when every Yorkshire Man and Woman’s heart beats proudly in their chests and one farm receives a very innovative award!

    The Tye Trophy is an important prize which gets awarded annually at The Great Yorkshire Show. It recognises the achievements of successful farms who go above and beyond when it comes to environmental sustainability. In true Yorkshire style, this isn’t about paying lip service to green issues, it’s about rewarding those farms doing a ‘proper job’ of setting environmental standards for the future.

    Dalefoot Farm, in the Lake District, has been proud to be shortlisted this year. As an upland sheep farm we are also home to Dalefoot Composts and Barker and Bland Peat Bog Restoration Ltd. Our farm, maybe highly diversified but is made up of inter-connected businesses which enhance wildlife habitat, transform wool and bracken into nutrient rich products and sustain the cultural heritage of our location.

    At a time when we’re told that successful farming and landscape enrichment are mutually exclusive, Dalefoot Farms challenges this assertion. By harvesting bracken from the fells of Cumbria creating habitat and easier gathering, and buying-in low-grade Herdwick and Swaledale wool from neighbouring farms, we produce a high-quality peat-free compost that enables gardeners to go green with award winning results. Peat-free compost reduces the demand for peat in our domestic horticulture market. This along with our peat bog restoration breaks the cycle of degradation to our U.K. Bogs. By healing and repairing them we create native habitat, increase bio-diversity and have the add-on social benefits of carbon sequestration and flood resilience.

    Although we’re just runners-up in this year’s competition, we’re very proud to have been considered for this prize. The worthy winners this year are the Robinson family at Strickley Farm, Kendal, an organic dairy farm. We’ve been delighted to meet with them and hear what they’ve been doing in the North west to increase yields etc.

    We’re enjoying our ice-creams and admiring the livestock now... we have to say The Great Yorkshire Show doesn’t fail to impress - All in all a great day out!

  • Caption: Degraded bog
    Caption: Sphagnum moss with sundew
    Caption: On site assessing the job

    The restoration of a peat extraction site, is no easy task. Take Bolton Fell Moss in Cumbria, which had been severely degraded after years of peat removal. As gardeners, we like to think of ourselves as nurturing plant-life but the sad fact is that most of the peat extracted from this U.K. bog supplied the Gardening and Horticultural Industry. All is not lost though, as thanks to the efforts of Natural England and the technical expertise of our sister company Barker and Bland ltd, the bog has been fully restored.

    Doing this takes a lot of work; firstly, preparing the site using big machinery, secondly raising water levels by damming and blocking channels and thirdly replanting thousands of native bog-land species. When we say thousands, we mean it… Bolton Fell Moss Bog covers over 224 hectares of land and with approximately 1000 plants per square metre, you do the maths!

    Many people ask how the sphagnum gets established which is a very good question. Basically, it involves a special mulch or ‘living carpet’ of millions of sphagnum fragments and nurturing species from donor sites being translocated to the bog. This ‘living carpet’ enables the sphagnum to in-bed and do the work of healing and restoring the bare, degraded peat left behind after extraction.

    The most exciting thing is that the bog has now been designated a brand-new National Nature Reserve (NNR) by Natural England. This means its future is much more secure and the Bog can get on with being host to a fabulous range of plants and providing a wide range of wild-life and social benefits: The plants used are Sphagnum based and peat forming which means they’ll begin the journey of re-creating the peat we’ve taken away over time. Peat itself is precious stuff, it stores more even carbon than trees! By locking carbon away, the bog helps mitigate the rising temperatures of climate change. Not only that, peat acts like a sponge and will hold up to 35 times its weight in water, truly ‘slowing the flow’ and improving flood resilience.

    The habitat Bolton Fell Moss provides will entice rare butterflies, bugs and birds to make it their home and increase in numbers, another reason it’s been made a National Nature Reserve.

    As gardeners, many of us have already gone Peat-free. Dalefoot Composts produce prize winning growing mediums that enable green fingered folk to keep nurturing their plants without compromising the natural environment. By continuing to support the peat-free industry, we not only enrich our own gardens but actively support the creation of a new garden; Bolton Fell Moss - the biggest bog garden in England!

  • Last week we celebrated our 10th year exhibiting at RHS Hampton Court. Set in the grounds of the historic Hampton Court Palace which was famously the home of Henry VIII. The palace provides an impressive architectural venue for not only enjoying the atmospheric show gardens but also live music over the water and fountains, and plenty of retail therapy opportunities with the extensive range of trade stands. See the RHS’ best bits here…Youtube

    We were all inspired at our first stop of the day – ‘The Edible Eden Kitchen Garden’ – Designed by Chris Smith of Pennard Plants, Burpee Seeds and Lubera. This garden boasted a variety of colourful ripening fruit and vegetables and a sea of yellow sunflowers, whilst produce from the garden was used for daily cooking demonstrations and sweet tomato tastings. Pennard Plants grow in our compost.

    Pauline had a quick chance to grab a cup of tea in the Rose Garden Tearoom where she was ‘blown away by the scent in The Rose Garden containing the most perfect roses I’ve ever seen’. Here was the place to acquire top rose growing advice from exhibitors such as David Austin Roses, Peter Beales and Fryer’s Roses who released a new elegant white rose ‘The Little Angel’. 

    We all took a wander round the story-telling show gardens which highlighted topical issues of Climate Change – the Global Impact Garden, Believe in Tomorrow and The Smart Meter Garden; the importance of a wild garden – The Wild Garden and BBC Springwatch Garden, and encouraging pollinators to thrive – The Urban Pollinator Garden.

    ‘The floral marquee’ was a wall-to-wall display of exotic floral colour> ‘Brighter Blooms’ picked up a Gold Medal for their impressive Zantedeschia Lily exhibit as did Hogarth Hostas – their 3rd RHS award this year. Hogarth Hostas use a blend of Wool Compost and Lakeland Gold to grow their Gold medal award winning Hostas. 

    Back at the Dalefoot stand, we were honoured to host a successful book signing of the recently-released ‘The Climate Change Garden’. Co-author Sally Morgan was taking questions on how we, as gardeners, can start to adapt to Climate Change. 

    On Press Day, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary (DEFRA) headed to our stand where Simon took the opportunity to reinforce the urgent need to stop using peat and also outlined our nationwide Peatland Restoration work.

    Lastly, Special thanks to Charlie at Westdale Nurseries for providing us with some impressive Bougainvilleas for our stand. 

  • We’re excited about going to RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival next week and not just because of the sunny weather. This year we’ve sponsored a brilliant new book; ‘The Climate Change Garden’ by Sally Morgan and Kim Stoddart, Green Rocket Books, 2019. Many of us, including myself, have been thinking about climate change happening in the future. However, its effects are being felt here now and although we must continue to limit its effects, this book gets us, as gardeners, to think about how to adapt to climate change from now on.

    Don’t worry, the book isn’t all doom and gloom, it contains lots of practical advice and inspiration about what future growing will look like. From dealing with winter flooding to summer droughts, it includes creative ideas and great pictures to get you thinking.

    One tip that kept coming through is the importance of mulching, to prevent water loss, reduce weeds and maintain healthy soil structure. The suggestions for mulches are many and varied; from old wool carpet to straw through to the luxury of ‘Lakeland Gold’ our own Dalefoot Composts’ brand made from nutrient-rich bracken that will do all the jobs listed above and will also feed your plants for two years! Mulch on…indeed.

    If you’d like to meet one of the authors, we have a great opportunity for you…Sally Morgan, Editor of Organic Farming Magazine will be visiting our stand at RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival. She will be on the stand to answer questions and meet people Tuesday 2nd July between 2-4pm (Stand HC/140) and will happily sign copies of the book for readers. Don’t miss out on meeting Sally and having the chance to listen to this writer working at the very forefront of Climate Change Gardening.

    For more information and to buy copies see their website here

  • Caption: Chatsworth House
    Caption: 'From Darkness to Light' Garden

    A big Thank You to all our existing and new customers who called to say hello and order more compost. An opportunity to see and feel our new, no feed ‘Wool Compost for Tomatoes’ and a fine display of tomatoes it has grown this year! Here’s a roundup of our highlights...

    …… listening to Martin Fish at the Dig In Theatre sharing his experience on getting started with growing fruit and vegetables. A writer, RHS judge and passionate about organic growing, Martin has been using Dalefoot Composts for a number of years. Visit Martin's website: www.martinfish.com

    …… watching families get their hands into our Wool Compost potting strawberries with RHS Master Grower – Pennard Plants

    ….. being inspired by the show garden designed by Lyn Heslop ‘From darkness to Light’ depicting her incredible journey following her diagnosis of cancer - dewberryhorticulture.com

    …… intrigued by Silver Gilt medal winners, Hogarth Hostas' very personal display of their National Collection of Small and Miniature Hostas flourishing in pots of Dalefoot Compost. We are very tempted to start our own collection! - www.hogarth-hostas.co.uk

    ……Gold medal winners Kevock Garden Plants' display of alpine, bog and woodland plants drew a very appreciative audience including Laura and Robin - www.kevockgarden.co.uk

    Join us at our next show – Woburn Abbey or we will see you at our RHS Hampton Court Stand where we will be talking peat free organic gardening and why it’s so important to make the change from peat-based products.

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© Barker and Bland Ltd t/a Dalefoot Composts 2014 - 2019. All rights reserved.
Barker and Bland is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Dalefoot Farm, Heltondale, Nr Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2QL. Registered number: 8312959

This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

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