Small-scale sustainability

Christine Page

If you are one of those people who takes seriously both your own health and the honestly sustainable production of food, then you have helped create the demand that has enabled the recent resurgence of small-scale, niche farming that raises and markets just such nutrient-rich, ethical produce. 

Smiling Tree Farm is one of those rare, small-scale pastoral farms that uses regenerative farming practices to nurture nature’s soil food web below ground and grow lush, diverse pastures above ground, in order to produce delicious, nutrient-rich raw milk and meat from 100% grass-fed animals to sell directly to the compassionate, well-informed consumer.

Selling directly to the public means the full value of the produce is returned to the farm. This allows for investment in many areas, which in turn returns to the consumer the best quality product: from butchery and creamery facilities, to housing and handling facilities to ensure the highest welfare for the animals, but also for wildlife and conservation where large areas of the farm have been reserved for nature.

The ethos of Smiling Tree Farm is based on the belief that good food can only come from contented, healthy animals raised compassionately on land that is managed regeneratively to provide a diverse and natural diet. 

In order to be contented and healthy means the animals must be adapted to the local landscape and be bred to thrive on a wholly pastoral diet of grasses, herbs, wildflowers and browsing hedgerows. Native and rare breeds are, therefore, the natural choice. They live free-range all year round, which keeps them healthier and more contented than if they were shut inside. 

As there is no legal definition of the loosely used term ‘grass-fed’, it’s important to note that the grass-fed animals at Smiling Tree Farm really are 100% grass-fed. None are fed any grains, root crops, brassicas or silage, none of which in bulk are a natural food for ruminants and all of which can adversely affect the nutrient value or flavour of the produce. 

Both the beef and lamb from Smiling Tree Farm have an exceptional depth of flavour that is due to the animals' slow maturing on a varied and wholly pasture diet. The meat is dark in colour and rich in nutrients, minerals, vitamins and heart-healthy fats. It is the perfect paleo food.

The raw milk comes from 100% grass-fed Jersey cows milked just once a day. The milking cows go out to graze grass every day of the year and on cold winter’s nights they come in to a warm, dry barn where they are loose housed on straw and have pasture hay to eat. Following the ethical values of the farm, the milking cows also keep their own calves at foot until weaning between 4 – 6 months of age.

Every animal is treated with respect, gentleness and individual attention and all the breeding stock are known by name, not number. 

The meat and milk is either fully certified or pending certification with the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, which is the only UK organisation certifying 100% grass-fed produce. The farm has been run for 10 years following organic practices but is not certified organic. However, in 2016 will be applying for organic certification.

Produce can be ordered directly by contacting Christine, for collection or delivery nationwide by overnight courier in temperature-controlled packaging. The farm welcomes visitors, so get in touch if you’d like to find out more or place an order. 

This blog was first published in Paleo-Britain on 5 February 2016.