Henrietta and James, the owners of the farm, moved to Somerset with their four teenage children from London 10 years ago somewhat to their surprise.
We bought Stream Farm lock, stock and barrel in 2002. It had a small herd of 28 Dexter Cattle and a small flock of 26 Hampshire Down sheep. We have increased the herd to over 200 and the flock to 300 or so and in 2006 we received formal organic status and are certified by Organic Farmers & Growers. We had no farming experience and got by on a wing and a prayer (to say the least!). Now we have moved on somewhat and maybe do not need the wing. Our lamb, beef, chicken, rainbow trout and apple juice have all won gold, silver or bronze at the Taste of the West Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Sam and his wife, Felicity, came to join us in 2006 and moved to their own farm in September 2009 when Hannah and Andy and their children came to take on the chickens. Vernon, with his son Jared, now looks after the rainbow trout and Matt and Claire, who arrived with their two children in May 2010 (now three with the arrival of Meadow!), have taken on the sheep. This year, Andy and Hannah have left us (now with four children after Juno's and Judah's arrivals) to return to Devon with a flock of sheep to find a council farm or rent some land and we have been joined by Nuira and Rubens who have taken on the chickens. Will has joined us for a year as well, tasked with selling Stream Farm produce in Bristol and Bath and Simon and Alex have come on board for a couple of years to help make sure all the little businesses are humming.
Our aim at Stream Farm is to show that the British countryside is far better served by large numbers of small farms selling their produce directly to those who are going to eat it rather than by just a few huge farms selling to the supermarkets. To that end, we have started quite a number of small farming businesses on our 250 - acre farm with the intention of handing each one on, once it can be seen to be profitable and can earn a livelihood, to farmers who want to be part of the vision.
We have been closely involved with issues of urban decline for over 25 years and found a while ago that our brief was wider than we anticipated so we are now focussing as well on the sad and rapid breakdown of rural communities.
But the vision needs you as well if it is going to work. We want you to choose to buy from us - and, gradually, we hope, from our farmers - because you agree with what we are trying to do, not just because our produce is second to none. If you like what you buy, we would love you to consider committing to continue to do so for, say, a year at a time. That way, the producers can have some certainty in advance that they will be able to sell what they produce and can get on with what they know best - rather than trying to compete with the huge marketing budgets of the multiple retailers. We also want to persuade you to buy in larger amounts than you are used to and to find out about some of the less well known cuts - and we will pay half the cost of a chest freezer if you do not have one to get you started and provide you with super recipes. You will know that what you buy will (soon) come from small scale farmers whose livelihoods you are helping to sustain and whose product will be traceable to their doorstep. And what you buy, we promise, will be second to none!