Poultry (broilers) and Horticulture (fruit)
HORTICULTURE & POULTRY, HEREFORDSHIRE: Stephen’s 299 acre (121 hectare) farm is going through a lot of changes. He recently converted from broiler chickens into pullet rearing. That's rearing laying hens for commercial egg farms. He is also diversifying into insect production (more on that below).
Due to changing market forces, there is no longer demand for Stephen’s 54 acres (22 hectares) of intensive bush cider apple orchards, so they were recently grubbed up. As the third generation of his family to grow apples in Herefordshire, it was an emotional day when the trees were dug up. However, he still has his Perry pear and traditional heritage orchards.
In 2017, he planted 20,000 fruit trees as part of an agro-forestry scheme, including apples, pears, sour cherries and quince. Stephen believes in regenerative agricultural practices and wants his farm to become a more extensive, lower input enterprise.
After a year of trials, Stephen has figured out a way of converting the nutrients from his farm crops into high-value, nutritious food for humans and animals – insects. Pulped apples provide the perfect substrate, or food, for the insects to grow on. Stephen will produce crickets, mealworms and black soldier fly which will be available as milled flour and other food ingredients.
There is increasing interest in foods derived from insects, for both human and farm animal diets. They’re high in protein and minerals requiring less land and food miles than traditional animal agriculture.
Stephen is now designing a complex ‘insect farm’. By Christmas he hopes to have moved the trial unit from the back of an old lorry, to an existing building which is the size of a large swimming pool.
There is still much to do in terms of environmental licences, food safety accreditation and legal obligations, but Stephen has taken the first step towards a whole new way of farming.
Member of the NFU
Previous media experience
Farmerama podcast (Episode 37 on agro-forestry). A brief feature in the Hereford Times about planting juicing apples