The Beginnings of
It all began back in 1986. After seeing 5 acres of good land come up for sale in a local newspaper, farm founders Jayne Arnold & Julian Eldridge decided to start producing quality organic vegetables for the local community. They bought an old 1964 Ford Super Dexta, a plough, a few seeds and got stuck in. A few years, a few more acres and a couple of kids later they were running one of the first organic vegetable box schemes in the country, delivering fresh and healthy produce to local households.
33 years on, what was a bare field is now a thriving and productive farm. With wildflower rich pastures, no-dig vegetable gardens, orchards and tall hedgerows full of birdsong, Oxton Organics has become a haven for wildlife and people alike. Most recently, Jayne & Julian's son Jake has returned to the farm that raised him, bringing a wealth of new ideas and strategies to keep the farm growing for another generation.
Although the methods may have changed, the fundamental idea, that food can and should be produced in a way that nourishes human and non-human life alike, has remained the same, and the Super Dexta is still running.
This Is How We Grow
Over 30 years of organic growing, and still growing strong...
Our 3 Guiding Principles
To make sure we always leave things better than we found them, we use 3 guiding principles to guide all our decision making. These are patterns that we see as integral to all healthy ecosystems and that, if followed, will mean our farm will continue to provide harvests and habitats for generations to come.
1. Build Soil
We all depend on soil. If we feed the soil, the soil will feed us, so we only farm in ways that builds soil holistically and promotes long term soil fertility.
2. Build Biodiversity
Biodiversity is nature's immune system. It's what stops pest and disease running amok through ecosystems. By providing plenty of diverse habitat and never using harmful biocides we can build natural resilience into our farms.
3. Support Ecological Succession
'Ecological succession' is a pattern that describes the succession between different communities of plants and microbes. Most of our food crops are annual plants, which tend to express themselves earlier in this succession, but generally ecosystems are trying to push themselves further along towards diverse communities of mostly perennial plants which are much more resilient and stable.
By encouraging this process and basing our fertility on perennial plants & trees we can grow food regeneratively with less dependence on disruptive machinery and fossil fuels.
"I left school in 1978 and took a job at a local plant nursery. I quickly fell in love with plants, accepted an apprenticeship and then a diploma at Pershore Agricultural College. These were formative years. I met Julian and discovered all was not right in the industry. Julian and I bought a little plot of land (Oxton Organics), and had two wonderful children. Since Jake returned we have changed to no-dig, and my passion for growing healthy soil and food is stronger than ever. I feel truly blessed with the path l chose and hope I never stop observing and learning."
"I'm Julian , father of Jake and co-founder of Oxtons. Jayne and I began growing organic veg here at Fladbury in the late 1980's, wanting to move away from conventional market gardening towards a more sustainable, environmentally sensitive food production system. I've been lucky to be able to build here. Build a business, a home and a family and hopefully a destination for locals wanting to eat healthily and sustainably. I've recently taken a step back from the day to day running of the holding but am excited by Jake and Jayne's move towards a more regenerative model. It'll be me delivering your order in our emissions free, electric van. I look forward to meeting you."
"I came back to the farm a few years back after studying design and travelling for a while. I'm fascinated by how human health, ecological health and social health are all so intrinsically linked. I believe good farming can meet all of our needs, whilst supporting the integrity of our living world. For me, working with nature is both inspiring and humbling and shows me a more beautiful world is possible"
"I have been working on the farm for just over a year now and this season I have also started growing flowers for the business. I have been working in horticulture for nearly 10 years, with most of my experience growing food organically for chefs. Working at Oxtons has given me the opportunity to grow, pack and sell to our local community which has felt very meaningful. Besides growing I am currently training to be a therapist. I am fascinated by these links in horticultural therapy and the healing power of nature and the outside. The farm is a place which provides space for quiet contemplation but also fun and enjoyment within our little community - particularly when the sheep escape!"