Katie Allen

Katie Allen

Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Sheep & Cattle

MIXED, GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Katie and her husband James are first generation farmers. Farming without their own farm or a tenancy, they instead provide a grazing service to landowners who don’t have their own livestock. They have 150 native breed sheep and 48 native breed cattle, which they farm with a regenerative philosophy focusing on providing grazing tailored to support the needs of the surrounding wildlife, biodiversity requirements and soil conditions.

This entails a zero input, pasture-based (grass) system, outwintering (leaving animals outside during winter) and lambing and calving outdoors. The couple sell their lamb and beef direct to the public and sometimes restaurants. Katie has also established a farm diversification business, re-training as a knitwear designer/maker; using all the wool from the flock to produce a 100% fully traceable knit collection; grown regeneratively, spun and handmade all within South West England. Her work includes one of the first garments in the country; which validates the regenerative approach and soil-to-soil nature of her textiles.

Her love of farming began in an unusual way. When she was in her early twenties, she had an allergic reaction to some chemically treated fabric which made her want to understand more about how food, skincare and clothing was produced.

This led her to a 10-week ‘Introduction to Smallholding’ course at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire and some weekend workshops at Daylesford Organic farm shop in Gloucestershire. She was hooked from that point and all she wanted to do was farm.

James has a full time job in IT in addition to their grazing business, despite loving the idea of farming full-time. With five children between them and a mortgage to pay, they just couldn’t afford to make the move to farming full-time with no tenancy or land ownership.

Katie enjoys being outside and the physical aspects of farming, as well as the variety and constant demand to problem solve. She enjoys working with animals and feels a great deal of compassion for their wellbeing. She also has a great sense of pride in producing end products – be it the knit collection or lamb and beef boxes.

Sustainability is key to her work, and she likes that decisions on how they farm have the potential to have a profound impact on the environment and local communities.

But farming without a farm is incredibly challenging; she and James are always at the will of others and can’t invest in fencing and equipment which could make their work safer, easier, and more efficient.

If they had a tenancy or owned a farm they would convert to organic, and James would either stop the day job or dramatically reduce his hours.

Contact Katie

As well as spending time with her five children, Katie loves music, reading and running.