The story so far
We are Jason and Nina Wilson. Originally from South Africa, we moved to the UK in 1998. We have lived in Gloucestershire, Sussex, Lincolnshire, Dumfries and are now happily settled in Orkney. We moved around so much because Jason did an apprenticeship in biodynamic organic farming, then a college course in farm management, and was subsequently employed as a farm manager in Dumfries and Lincolnshire.
Finding our own farm
In mid-2010 we decided that although we were grateful for the experience gained in running other people’s farms, we really wanted to have a go at setting up our own project. So we packed up everything we owned and stored it, bought an old caravan and a little 4x4 to tow it, and headed off with our four dogs in search of our new home.
We looked into partnerships, farm tenancies, community-supported-agriculture projects, trying to find our perfect fit. Our journey led us to revisit old friends in places we had lived before, and to making new friends in strange places.
Look up our old friends here:
Settling in Orkney
On the suggestion of a good friend who farms in Orkney, we deicided to investigate it for ourselves. Orkney was the perfect fit - good soils, good climate, stunning scenery and a farmcentric community. After travelling the length and breadth of Britain, we had set our hearts on finding a farm near the sea, and we found it. We would just like to thank Wheems Organic campsite in South Ronaldsay and The Barn campsite in Westray for their wonderful hospitality while we looked for our new home.
After over a year of searching, we finally moved into our new home, Noltland, on the 16th of February 2012. The farm lies directly opposite the 16th century Noltland Castle, and we have the honour of being the new keepers of the keys to the castle!
Plans for Noltland farm
The outgoing farmers, Jim and Lorna Brown, had run Noltland Farm as a successful beef unit, but it did have a former life as a dairy (in addition to producing beef) when his parents Billy and Ruby Brown ran it. Increased regulation had persuaded them to give up dairying in favour of focusing on beef. There are still echoes of the dairy in the old byres, but for the most part we will be modifying the buildings quite considerably to change the focus back to dairy here.
We have started these modifications in earnest already and will hopefully record what happens here. More importantly we have also sold off the last of the beef cows that we bought from the Browns and invested in our future dairy cows. We have bought 10 in-calf Ayrshire heifers and 5 heifer calves. Our new cows will start calving in March 2013, so our deadline is to have everything ready for then. Wish us luck, and stay tuned.