Low Sizergh Celebrates 20 Years of Food and Farming May 17, 2011
Changes in people’s approach to food in the last twenty years are just one of the things being celebrated by the Park family at Low Sizergh Farm as they mark the anniversary of the farm shop established in 1991 near Kendal.
A love of home-grown produce, an appreciation of local food traditions and recipes, and an increasing interest in cooking have helped the business, started in one recession and celebrating in another, to thrive.
Marjorie and John Park who established their award winning food and farming business with one employee, have seen it happily grow to include daughter Alison, son Richard and 55 staff who all help run the farm, tea room, farm shop, gift and craft galleries on the 138 hectare (341 acre) farm.
The family’s initiation into selling food direct from the farm was in the mid 80s with pick your own strawberries. Marjorie Park, a self-confessed original ‘foodie’, said the family have seen a great change in people’s interest in, and relationship to, food.
“There has been a huge resurgence in home grown fruit and vegetables. People are more likely to pick their own from allotment plots, gardens and pots then they would have done twenty years ago. This also means there is a much more practical appreciation of how food is grown, where it comes from and how great it tastes fresh and home-grown. Our better understanding of food also comes from what’s on TV. There are far more food programmes and celebrity chefs than ever before and they are not just teaching us how to cook but also how to campaign for better food and animal welfare. Twenty years ago, celebrity chefs could be counted on one hand!”
“Other examples of what’s changed”, adds Marjorie Park, “is the concept of farmers’ markets bringing together lovers of good, local food and producers. They started as an American phenomenon and now most towns have artisan markets and farm shops. The concept of fair trade is understood and supported – though it would be good to see it applied to milk prices as it currently costs more to produce milk than what it sells for. And something that I am particularly pleased to see is the great value now placed on family recipes and regional specialities and the links to our food traditions and heritage. It’s certainly reflected in the range of artisan goods from local producers on sale in the farm shop.”
In the last 20 years the farm’s dairy herd has expanded from 120 Holsteins to a mixed herd of 160 Holstein, Montbeliard and Swedish Reds. Both John Park and son Richard continue to place great importance on high standards of animal husbandry and environmental stewardship, tending the land responsibly for future generations. Eggs from the 750 hens that roam the farm, and fruit from the reinstated orchards feature in the farm shop, as do the cows; their milk is made into cheese and ice cream (the latter sold by the Windermere Ice Cream Company). The cows still delight the crowds with their daily appearance in the milking parlour, viewed from windows installed in the tea room 19 years ago.
Alongside agricultural activity sits a horticultural enterprise. Growing Well, an award winning social enterprise, was set up at Low Sizergh Farm in 2002. The business, a mental health charity and certified organic grower, produces over a ten tonnes of fruit and vegetables for the shop and crop share scheme and operates as an accredited horticultural training centre.
Vintage tractors, strawberry teas, farm trails, food tastings and horticultural celebrations are some of the highlights of the anniversary plans being held at Low Sizergh Farm, near Kendal on Sunday 12 June this year.
For more information, images or interviews please contact either:
Emma Dewhurst (PR) 015395 64193 or email email@example.com or
Marjorie Park or Alison Park on 015395 60426