Management of the Farm
Millen Farm will manage multiple farms, or ‘plots’ as we refer to them. Each plot will be approximately 1.5 acres in size, with 1 acre of growing space and 0.5 acre for infrastructure, pathways, ponds and so forth. There is provision for up to 6 of these plots at the Samford Commons site, where we will have our base, which council have agreed to release at a rate of one plot per year, provided public support is continued. Further to these plots we are encouraging private landowners to farm their own land under the same principles. They will receive support and training from Millen Farm where required and such Entrepreneurs will be able to reap what they sow and make a living wage each year from land they already own. Sometimes this land may be farmed by the landowner, other times the landowner may rent the land to the farm for an agreed amount but and to the farmer can make an income from either way, it can be a win-win for the community.
Our diverse cropping and multiple plots will ensure both diversity and security in harvests: There will always be a variety in our planting and harvest over the various plots, and should a natural disaster strike, it would be unlikely to affect all plots, thus not affecting the whole farm. This means that we can keep the farm going and rally around the affected plot to support that farmer to get back on his/her feet again.
One of our management principles is to promote diversity by re-vegetating land to create habitats for beneficial fauna. No artificial pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers will be used on any of our crops, ensuring the safety of all wildlife, consumers and the soil together.
The farmers (one plot each) will be managed by the Operations team and report to the Board. Support will be given by the Farm Team. This is a volunteer group who will help co-ordinate all required training, technical support and growing advice for the farmers. They will need to grow crops as a collective so we avoid getting too much of one crop and not enough of another. In this way they will work cooperatively and equally, ensuring the load is spread evenly, and that certain lands that favour particular crops are utilised to the best of their ability.
This group also has coordinates an advisory ‘brains trust’ of local farmers and professionals who are keen for the project to succeed. These individuals are also volunteers, but unable to provide the amount of time required to manage the farm plots specifically, thus keeping their involvement at an advisory capacity. This is a wonderful way to connect with the wealth of knowledge in our valley and ensure that we receive the highest quality advice and commentary as we build our farm.
Possibly the single most important resource for an organic farm to manage is water. Over our inaugural year we have installed a 229,000L …rainwater tank to collect from the roofs of the infrastructure on site which should store as much water as we require. The farm currently boasts a large swale across the contour of the land. A swale is essentially a ditch, with a berm on the down hill side, and all points along the contour line are the same height above sea level. This swale is an effective way to slow down the water that runs off the top of the site, retaining the water until it soaks into the ground forming an underground reservoir. In our swale, there is a level sill spillway at one end, which ensures that in large water events, the excess of water is diverted down the side of the farm, so that the crops wont get washed away, along with all our beautiful soil. Eventually fruit trees will be planted into the swale.
Future developments will include other water saving techniques such as grey water recycling.