Duchy Originals has joined forces with Waitrose in an exciting and groundbreaking partnership which will cement its position as one of the country's leading organic and free-range food brands. The new licensing and distribution agreement - the first of its kind ever undertaken by Waitrose - will significantly increase the charitable donations made by Duchy Originals as Britain's fastest-growing supermarket invests in and develops the brand. The partnership gives Waitrose, Duchy Originals' largest and most long-standing client, the exclusive right to originate, manufacture, distribute and sell Duchy Originals products in the UK. Waitrose, whose aim is to expand the range from the current 200 products to around 500, will pay a royalty to Duchy Originals on all wholesale and retail sales.
More stories on Organic Farming
Sep '09 9
Apr '09 22
Spring planting will go on for weeks here, with carrots, onion sets, radishes and many other vegetables going in. We are slightly all over the place because we're also busy planting the apples at the moment and need to clear the ground ready for them. It is full steam ahead, planting as much as we can of everything while it's fine. The most exciting bit for us is the harvesting of the spring greens which I feel are really emblematic of the start of spring, marking its official arrival and signifying new growth. I think we almost crave them by this time of the year and they taste absolutely delicious.
Apr '09 7
We are in the throes of spreading well-composted farmyard manure on to the potato grounds. This muck has been regularly turned over the past few months to maximise aeration and to ensure the best quality compost. Our Jack-of-all-trades here, Andrew Baker (who coincidently has the same name as Duchy Originals' CEO), is our Head Tractor Driver but he's also our relief milker and looks after one of our beef cattle herds. He has been helping with the muck spreading and will incorporate it into the top few inches with one pass of the cultivator to mix it in with the soil. While he was doing this the other day no less than 14 buzzards hovered overhead. They seem so much more commonplace these days, yet I well remember when my boys were younger pointing out an occasional buzzard to them when they were such a rare sight. Shortly after the muck has been spread, Andrew will plough it quite deep and then leave it and hope for a bit of weathering (wet, dry, frost), and then we'll probably start on planting the potatoes in about a month's time. The general rule of thumb for us is that if we can get all of our spuds in by Easter that's a good thing.
Feb '09 6
There's something about the soft winter sun that is very special and unique to the period between mid November and February. It's very hard to capture its beauty but it really is rather breathtaking. There were some days last week that were especially lovely, with an almost smoky sunlight over the gently rolling Gloucestershire slopes. With the heavy snowfall down here this week most of the animals are sheltering inside. Cow rubbing is a very popular pastime in the pens and it always makes them go a bit gaga. There are two scratching brushes in the cowshed and each one has a horizontal and vertical set of bristles. It's a natural activity for the cows who are partly woodland animals anyway and so by nature would rub on trees and branches when outside. A friend on his farm has an electric motorised scratcher and it's an hilarious sight when it activates to the touch. The cows get a lot of pleasure from it, becoming incredible contortionists as they wriggle and writhe to scratch those parts that are hard to reach!
Jan '09 9
Organic standards mean we stock fewer animals on a given area compared to conventional farming - whether it is in a building in the winter or on a field in the summer. Our cows walk out to their grazing and we don't push them too hard for their milk.
Dec '08 15
Christmas at Home Farm is very much like any other December day on this busy working organic farm. The main difference is that we try to get the jobs done extra early on Christmas Day itself so that we can get home to our families sooner rather than later. For us Christmas day starts early, with milking at around 5 o'clock in the morning followed by feeding and bedding of the livestock at about 7am which goes on until 9.30 or 10ish. These are the priority jobs before we can start on other things, such as packing the organic vegetables for our box delivery scheme and our farm shop, The Veg Shed.
Nov '08 14
I've been the Duchy Home Farm dairy herd manager for two years. It's my job is to make sure we're producing the best quality for our Duchy Originals Milk and to ensure that our Ayrshire cows and calves are looked after to the highest possible standards. The average life of a conventional dairy cow is less than five years while the average age of our Ayrshire dairy cows is nearly twice that. This is because our cows produce about half as much milk as Holsteins and so are put under a lot less stress. Cows are not machines! Each of our cows has a name which starts with the prefix Duchy so, for example, we have Duchy Buttermilk, Duchy Daisy. Each cow also has a pedigree certificate and passport with a number which must correlate to the cow's ear tag number - this means that we have complete traceability of all our animals. Click on read more to hear about Mark's typical day...
Sep '08 15
Looking ahead to sunnier days, we'll start harvesting as soon as the dew is off the crops and the combine has had its daily service, which involves cleaning air filters, checking oil and greasing all the bearings. Then we'll continue harvesting until at least 10 pm, sometimes working into the early hours.
Jul '08 31
The other day one of our young Tamworth boars (a male pig) thought he'd jump over a fence and get in with one of our older boars. Sadly the older boar, four years old, twice the size of the younger boar and with tusks, was not happy to receive an unexpected visitor.
Jul '08 22
I do a few guided farm walks throughout the summer. Recently the Soil Association and a group which included people from different walks of life ranging from policy makers to food writers, authors and farmers joined me. I took them around the farm and we had some interesting discussions about the amount of energy used in the present food system.