Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Not customers – local food investors!

16 April, 2010

“By investing in the place or person that provides your food, you get a guaranteed source of ethical, local produce while the farmer benefits from a secure income and a fair price.”

Country Living Magazine commenting on Community Supported Agriculture – May 2010


Steel and Snow

20 January, 2010

From our Snow Gallery, here’s a photo you can use on your computer as a snowy desktop wallpaper. The steel sculpture stands in the courtyard in front of Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, and was designed by sculptor Patrick Bateman.

How to capture this as your wallpaper:

  1. Click on the picture to see it appear full size.
  2. Right-click the full image and select ‘save as’ or ‘set as wallpaper’

Farm animals in steel -  sculpture by Patrick Bateman. Photo by Jason P Ball

Fish, food, floundering…

28 November, 2009

“With the collapse of some important fishing grounds, marine scientists are coming to recognise that what really matters is the wider ecosystems and environmental context.”
On the growing recognition of the links that bind ecosystems. Financial Times, 27 November 2009

Sheepdrove comment: This is way out of date… the ecologists have known for a long time how important ecosystems are, and they’ve been telling us too. We thought it was common knowledge that human activities are bound to a reliance on natural systems. Has the FT only just caught up?

RSPB calls for action on bird losses from industrial fishing
Concern is growing about the huge number of seabirds being killed by fisheries in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the RSPB said yesterday. Conservationists traditionally focus on southern oceans, but there is mounting alarm over the numbers of northern species falling victim to large-scale industrialized fishing methods. The Independent (27 Nov, p.21)

Farming Today
Website summary: Charlotte Smith asks whether sustainable agriculture, whilst being better for the environment, is going to provide enough food to feed the world. BBC Radio 4 listen again

Sheepdrove comment: The alternative is… unsustainable agriculture?

Hippocrepis, Succisa, Anthyllis

23 September, 2009

Over the last week we have been working hard for wildlife. Staff and volunteers established Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa), Devils-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) and Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) to enhance habitat for butterflies at Sheepdrove Organic Farm.

Sheepdrove staff plant Devils-bit Scabious

Sheepdrove staff plant Devils-bit Scabious

Can it be as simple as adding flowers?
What is special about these plants?

Jason Ball explains, “Yes, these are very important plants! They are special because each is food for the caterpillar of a rare butterfly. Horseshoe Vetch is essential for Adonis Blue and Chalkhill Blue, Devilsbit Scabious is the favourite of Marsh Fritillary, and Kidney Vetch is vital for Small Blue.”

This is all part of Sheepdrove Rare Butterly Project, launched in partnership with Natural England, Butterfly Conservation, BBOWT, Pang Kennet and Lambourn Valley Countryside Projects, Forestry Commission and Flora Locale to develop a scheme to save some of the rarest lepidopterans in the Lambourn area.

“All of these butterflies are in need of help. Marsh Fritillary is almost extinct from Berkshire with only one colony left, which is located in the Lambourn Valley.”

“However, putting wildflowers around the farm is not enough – we must manage the habitat to suit the ecological needs of the target species we are trying to bring back. This is the task of our fine beef cattle!”

Devils-bit Scabious at Cockcrow Bottom

Devils-bit Scabious at Cockcrow Bottom

Cattle grazing reduced the height and dominance of rough grasses at Cockcrow Bottom, our 2.2 hectare project area near the lake. Devils-bit Scabious has thrived here, and is in flower now. Grazing also maintained the short swards at Bockhampton Down where the 4.18 hectare project area includes a young woodland with open habitat zones.

Our potted scabious proved to be tough in surviving dry summer periods, and next year they should flower well, if we can keep the rabbits off them. Sheep will be excluded altogether and the cattle grazing will be stopped early in August to allow the scabious a full flowering season.

Horseshoe Vetch goes into the chalkpit

Horseshoe Vetch goes into the chalkpit

Green Thought for the Day

5 September, 2009

An Open Letter of Petition
to Mark Damazer, the Controller of BBC Radio 4.

Sheepdrove Organic Farm
Lambourn, Berkshire

PETITION: Green Thought for the Day

Please could we have a daily slot dedicated to the growing momentum of British people doing their bit for the planet?

We, the electronically undersigned, ask BBC Radio Four to begin a new four-minute slot each weekday to focus on environmental issues, what ordinary people are doing about their environmental impact, and practical ideas for action ordinary people can take.

Dear Mr Damazer,

The famous daily editions of Thought for the Day broadcast on the Today programme usually take a moral standpoint on various issues, and it seems that increasingly often the message is about our impact on the planet.

It is no coincidence that the Environment is such a frequent topic for the speakers. It is relevant to how each of us leads our lives and the view we take of the world.

Day after day we hear reports on Radio 4 about the degradation of our world’s natural resources and how urgent the need is for action in our everyday lives. Indeed most people recognise they must take steps and in recent years there has been a huge popular shift to all sorts of planet-friendly activity such as organic gardening, growing your own food, buying local, recycling, adopting renewable energy and cutting your carbon footprint.

However, concern can lead to apathy or a sense of hopelessness if there is no clear route to meaningful action. We think many listeners would be glad of a little encouragement and constructive guidance.

We propose that BBC Radio 4 should start a new mini-programme called “Green Thought for the Day”.
It would aim to provoke greener lifestyles and reflect on the personal scale of the rather formidable topic of environmentalism, with its challenge to ‘do your bit’ in the face of problems which can be of a global scale.

GTFTD would feature ordinary people doing something – however small – about their environmental impact, and would provide practical ideas for action that the listeners can take.

Programmes about the natural world and green issues such as Climate Change currently thrive on BBC Radio 4. Green Thought for the Day would complement what is often in-depth or science-based journalism, with something informal, inclusive and interactive.

We hope you like the idea, and look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jason Ball
Manager for Biodiversity and Alternative Energy
Sheepdrove Organic Farm


Readers – to electronically add your name to the petition, please add a comment below with your name and email address.  Short link =

Age of Stupid

2 September, 2009

We’re showing AGE OF STUPID this Friday, 4th Sept at 7.30pm.

The Age Of Stupid
(certificate 12A, 92 mins)

ageofstupidSet in the future, this indie film about climate change has inspired millions of fans. Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking back at archive footage from 2007 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

Tickets £7 (£5 to members of Slow Food.)
Please call to book on 01488 674737

Why is it cheaper to Slow Food members? The local SF group have organised this event and SLOW FOOD is a movement we support. The way we produce food is inextricably linked to the climate change issue, and so it’s only fitting that their film is shown at the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre. On Friday the Oak Room will become a cinema for the night!

This is just one of many events at the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre.


Claire Marriage started an open discussion after the film, and one of the audience suggested that Radio 4 ought to have something like ‘Thought for the Day’ but all about environmental issues. So we started a campaign for it. Please sign our petition!

7 June 2009 Open Farm Sunday

4 June, 2009

Sunday 7th June 2009
12noon – 6pm

Come and see Sheepdrove Organic Farm on OPEN FARM SUNDAY – the day when farmers nationwide are opening their farms to the public.

Enjoy a summer afternoon filled with activities for the whole family to enjoy including great tractor and trailer rides, butchery demonstrations, a live band and a family BBQ. Our new British White cows and calves are in a paddock for all to see, and baby piglets have arrived at the wood by the reedbed archway.

Download details:  Sheepdrove 7june09 Open Farm Sunday

Entrance Fee £5 per car.
Please no dogs except registered guide dogs.

farm open day

Ecorin Village visit

19 May, 2009

Today we had a visit from Takeshi Inada and colleagues from Ecorin Village, Hokkaido, Japan.


Ecorin Village has a farm that supplies the company’s 300 restaurants across Japan. Established for a quarter of a century, they are able to tell customers where their food comes from, and their mixed farm is fundamental to that. (They have high standards for suppliers too, and insist that all imported beef  is from Hereford and Angus breeds.)

Ecorin Village has a visitor centre, restaurant, extensive gardens including an English Garden designed by Bunny Guinness and exciting buildings such as the dairy parlour with a circular tower!

Sheepdrove’s farm tours

Everyone loves our guided trailer tours, which take you to see the farm animals and the landscape. Learn about our eco-friendly farming and wildlife projects. See the farm in action and the special features such as the rubbing post pyramids, or Sheepdrove’s unique chicken agroforestry field system. We always have something going on at the farm, it might be turkey season, lambing time or calving time.

Tours can also be taken on foot, especially eco walks and the famed Reedbed Ramble, an easy 1-hour guided walk. The Reedbed System at Sheepdrove is used all year round to treat waste water naturally and its water habitats are home to some very interesting wildlife. The Physic Garden is fascinating and at its best from May to September.  Outdoor art includes cut steel sculptures, a willow dome and standing stones. And of course the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre is a tour in its own right, with award-winning sustainable design and its unique combination of artwork, painted quotations and features of interest.

Sound Beginnings

14 May, 2009

Concert for Babies and Young Children

Hundreds of children and parents gathered in the majestic Oak Room for today’s concerts at Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre .

Classical music played by Mikhail Kazakevich (piano) and Sarah Austin (flute) combined with a stunning light show, altogether an enchanting experience.  Maxine Parsons led the event… an expert educator who welcomed the children and introduced the musicians as people who make classical music accessible to young children.

Juliet and Peter Kindersley believe music is very important for children as part of learning and growing up. Read more about Sound Beginnings… Mikhail Kazakevich solos on a piano music CD compiled by the Kindersleys, called The Healing Power of the Mozart Effect. We sell the CD at Sheepdrove’s web shop. Find it  in our gift section…

Part of the Newbury Spring Festival – there were 3 concerts today, with family tea after each. All organic food, of course. Some families dined alfresco in the Physic Garden, which is a beautiful collection of medicinal and edible herbs, coloured with zestfully fragrant flowers.

There is a rumour that the venue might host performances of The Nutcracker this Christmas. Mikhail told us, “I love the Nutcracker music, it is beautiful, powerful. The story has many layers, the transformations have deep meaning, when you look into it.”

Look out for more news at this blog…

Sheepdrove Piano Competition – the final

4 March, 2009

Sunday 17 May
Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, Lambourn.

Start time: 3pm (prize giving approx 5.30 – 6.00pm)
Tickets: £16.50 Unreserved
Box Office 01635 522733


Sir Roger Norrington – patron of the competition

This exciting final launches the Sheepdrove Piano Competition – an important new competition open to students from all the major UK music colleges, with an emphasis on the music of Frederic Chopin.

Come to the beautiful setting of the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre for the piano competition final, where you will be able to cast your vote for the audience prize.

Sir Roger Norrington, recently Chairperson of BBC’s Maestro competition and conductor of the BBC Last Night of the Proms – will head the jury to decide who wins the cash prizes. He is joined by David Whelton, managing director of the Philharmonia Orchestra, distinguished Russian pianist Mikhail Kazakevich, Festival Director Mark Eynon and Chairman of the Friends, Caroline Holbrook.

1st Prize: The Kindersley Prize of £2,000
2nd Prize: £1,000, donated by Greenham Common Trust
3rd Prize: £500, donated by the Friends of NSF Audience Prize donated by Leopold de Rothschild

The competition winner will also perform a solo recital at 12.30pm in the Corn Exchange on Monday 18 May as part of the Festival’s established Young Artists Lunchtime Recital Series.

Part of the Newbury Spring Festival

Box Office 01635 522733

Online bookings being taken from March 5th