Ragman’s Lane Farm is one of those farms that boldly bucks the trend – while the general direction of agriculture is to increase in size, specialise and mechanise, Ragman’s Lane is just 60 acres, has a whole host of enterprises and is expert in low-tech solutions. At a time when agriculture employs ever fewer numbers of an aging population of farmers, enterprises based at Ragman’s employ up to 10 people, half of whom can be considered young.
Situated in the beautiful Wye Valley, Ragman’s Lane has become well-known for running permaculture courses since the 1990s and has inspired hundreds of people to take up sustainable farming methods. In addition to the educational facilities, the farm itself currently comprises an orchard and apple juice processing facility, a biofertiliser experimentation lab, a 2 acre market garden, a willow production business and mob grazing sheep.
Using permaculture as a guiding design principle the farm has very little external inputs and generates its own fertility through composting, use of bocashi and biofertilisers made on farm. Inspired by soil expert Jairo Restrepo Ragman’s has set up a small research lab to develop biofertilisers for UK conditions run by full-time research manager Juanfran Lopez. Ragman’s has become a hub for farmer-led innovation and through courses and leading by example hopes to push the boundaries of sustainable farming methods.