Post event update, Diversification Farm Walk
The farm walk hosted by Richard Hirst and his family gave the Next Generation group a real insight into how farmers have diversified over the past decade to sustain the arable working farm.
Learning about the range of ways the Hirsts have diversified was of real interest to the whole group. Using the strengths throughout the family they now have such a variation of assets in their working business. One thing has led to another and now they lead as a great example for farmers wishing to think outside the box to increase their earnings.
As an extension to the farm yard the horse livery now has 50 horses on the yard with mother, daughter and one other member of staff running it throughout the year. Straw and hay is sourced from the farm and all the waste goes back to the beef cattle they own on the farm. The muck also gets mixed for spreading so wastage is really minimised.
We went on to visit a plot of land which has been turned into Hirsty’s Family Farm Park. What was originally a field of crop sculpted into a very basic maize and has now turned into a popular day out for families in and around Norfolk with over 15,000 visitors in the 6 week summer opening period.
Next stop was the pig fattening unit – Rob Hirst claims this is an enjoyable easy job looking after 2,000 pigs day to day. This is recent investment for the Hirsts which will see quick returns over the coming years.
Alongside the pigs the other livestock reared consists of the previously mentioned cattle herd and also over 250 sheep which graze on a neighbouring farm.
My highlight of the evening was the grain bins located in the back corner of one of the farm yards. These were unused as they were located in an awkward place for large grain lorries to access. They have though found a second life having been turned into hostels for farm workers harvesting 25ha of salad crops throughout the summer months.
To top off the evening the Hirst family hosted a BBQ with local produce off their farm. It was a great opportunity for networking, discussing the evening and a good catch up with the group!
On behalf of the Next Generation group a huge thank you to Richard Hirst and his family for hosting such a great evening.