2010 We began our farming foray with just 4 hens in our back garden, these four girls were our wedding gift to each other in the weeks before Ian and Lauren married, living in our back garden happily amongst our vegetable plot. From small ideas come great big new adventures. We began to have bigger ideas about that self sufficiency dream, a picturesque ideal of living off grid, being reliant on our own two hands and hard graft. We decided to approach our local council about restoring and taking over the disused allotments of over 30 years that were situated behind our home of the time. We took over the plot after many a month of discussions about how we planned to manage the land, striking that balance between crops and wildlife. We grew a vast array of rotating crops whilst repairing and establishing habitats for wildlife and rearing chickens for meat and eggs. It didn’t take long before we soon found ourselves restricted by the area and rules that we had to follow due to the allotments being surrounded by residential housing and the demands of those residents. Our continued wish for a more sustainable and off grid lifestyle sent us looking for something else, something more, something that we could grow into and set free those ideas we had dreamed up.
2012 was a busy year for us, William our son was born and we found after looking from the top of Scotland to the hills of Wales and the bottom of the coast of Cornwall, when a farm just 10 minutes down the road from where we were living at the time, luck truly was on our side. Thankfully our small family are not strangers to hard work, this is a good thing as when we bought Ganders farm in 2013 at an auction, little did we know how much we had let ourselves in for! Custodians of 10.69 acre plot in the stunning Welland Valley, right on the Northampton/Rutland/Leicestershire border. The views from the top of the hill at Ganders Farm are incredibly distracting and amazing if we do say so ourselves! However the farm was a literal tip with mounds of rubbish eight feet tall, more than one ‘Top Gear’ exploded caravan with debris all over the site, never ending supply of plastic fruit punnets buried in piles of deep littered stables. To say a lot of improvements would need to be made to get it working how we wanted it is an understatement! We have never forgotten about striking that balance between self sufficiency and wildlife conservation that has become our corner stone of our environmental policy. This is still a huge part of what we do now at Ganders Farm, we are continually looking at ways to make our farm even more wildlife friendly, ‘Green’ and self supporting. These improvements are an ongoing theme throughout our farming journey whether its land management, stock, tree planting or new barn building we have learnt to turn our hand to many new things.
I should introduce the family, there are only 3 humans but many many extended animal members! Ian and Lauren do the vast slog of work here that needs two hands. Ian is the main stockman, builder, fixer, electrician, plumber, entomologist, twitcher, botanist, mechanic, logistics and accounts, to name just a few of his job roles here at Ganders! Lauren is the main goat herd go-to, milker, trainer, entertainer of goats (and humans), maker of ice cream and soap, wrapper and packer of orders, recipe inventor and dreamer of ideas and giver of hugs and scratches (goats and humans alike!). Our final member is our son William who does a little bit every day to help out around the farm, especially the hens and the baby goats, he can often be found lending his taste buds along with Ian whenever Lauren comes up with a new idea! But absolutely none of this would be possible without the girls, our goats.
2015 Ganders Farm became known for being the home of Ganders Goat! They are the most valued members of the family and team (don’t tell the dogs!). If we hadn’t have stumbled across our first two goats Carrie and her daughter Shandy we would never be here. They lured us in with their demands for love, scratches and sandwich thievery! We also have a flock of free range hens that provide a percentage of our eggs used in production of our gelato. As for the best two dogs we could ever hope to share our sofa with, who both love to greet everyone who visits our honesty farm gate shop they do their best to help and are always there to put a smile on your face when it all goes wrong, which it does quite a lot!
2017 We won our first awards for the business. With both a start up award ‘One To Watch’ and runner up in ‘Sweet Artisan product Of The Year’ in the Carlsberg Food awards
2018 Saw us take the win of ‘Sweet Artisan Product Of The Year’ in the Carlsberg Food Awards. 2019 Saw a further win for Ganders Goat in the SME Business Awards where we won ‘The Green Award’ and came runner up in ‘Best Enterprising Business’.
2020 The Covid 19 pandemic saw the first slowing of business with no events to attend. This slower pace of life allowed us to tune more into the lands natural heartbeat and rhythm. The farm land we know and love we could now see and better interpret what the land has been showing us over the years with a greater clarity bringing ideas and improvements that became cemented through the course of that summer. The soil improvement and carbon project were born, we have always taken great steps to be as wildlife friendly as we can, managing the farm carefully and sensitively for the wildlife that lives here, this has given us a diverse and surprising mix of wildlife. We have planted half an acre of native broadleaf woodland and manage long strips of diverse hedge rows with Elder to Field Maple, Sloes and Brambles to Ash and Oak trees, we leave patches of tall grass and nettles with at least one of our paddocks being left completely alone throughout the nesting season for ground birds. These diverse, species rich meadows are then used for hay cut around June/July time. The hay we produce is fed to our goats giving them a gentle mild tasting fantastic milk that we use in our products. A small number of dry stone walls still exist on the farm and we have been restoring some of the dilapidated walls over the past few winters, we hope to uncover more as the years go on and restore them to their former glory too. Our land has many natural springs, some are seasonal but one in particular is extra special. The spring in question turns quickly into a small bubbling stream running down one side of the farm, this little stream is just special, we show you why on our Goat Walking Experience, but it has been paid a visit by the local otters too!
All this restoration and improvement of habitat provides plentiful areas for a huge spectrum of critters, bugs and beasties to roam, hunt or stay on our land. We love nothing better than to see the wildlife returning, new species being logged and knowing that our little “eco island” can and is making a difference to the local nature.