Meet the Team...
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Askerton Castle Estate is a 1458 acre organic livestock farm situated a few miles north of Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria. The farm has been certified organic since September 2004 and certified Pasture For Life since September 2019. It is run by us - Jane Eden and Chris Evans.
We started in 2002, but from the onset concerns about animal welfare and the routine use of medicine, biodiversity and conservation made the decision to farm organically a logical one. Over the years it has become clear to us that the secret to rearing healthy livestock is to have healthy soil supporting as wide a variety of plant life as possible. So short periods of intensive grazing of pasture followed by long periods of rest and recovery are encouraging deeper roots helping livestock access natural minerals and vitamins, greater diversity, faster growth, and a thicker cover of vegetation. As well as improving biodiversity this reduces soil erosion, improves water retention, and fixes carbon into the soil where it belongs. This is and always will be a work in progress.
The choice of traditional and rare breed livestock (Belted Galloway cattle and Blackface sheep) complement the landscape and are perfectly suited to turning rough hill pasture into the finest quality meat.
Our Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot pigs as well as the poultry are reared closer to the farmstead where they enjoy a relaxed and stress-free existence.
Askerton Castle Estate has a comprehensive Stewardship Agreement with Natural England to protect and manage the farm in a manner that encourages the development of local fauna and flora. There are a number of designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest covering The Mollen which are areas of ancient woodland and through which the clear water tributaries of the River Cambeck run.
The hay meadows support a rich variety of plants and animals, creeping bent, meadow foxtail, and crested dogs tail: the areas of rough grazing have other plant species present such as meadowsweet water mint, star sedge, primrose, and the locally rare plant adders tongue fern. This habitat also supports a variety of birdlife including snipe, redshank, curlew and skylarks.
The farm also has a herd of alpacas, now elderly, and living their twilight years in luxury.
Underscoring everything we do at Askerton is our ambition to produce the finest quality nutritious meat whilst regenerating our ecosystem. It is no longer enough to be just sustainable when so much of what is being sustained in the world is already degraded - a damaged environment. What we all need to be doing, in particular those of us involved with agriculture, is regenerating our environment and rebuilding the natural systems that will allow our eco-environment to flourish.