Craig and Ryan Baxter, our Share Farmers

Following the scorching summer of 2022 which left the Rural Estate looking rather brown, this year has panned out altogether differently.

Rain (and sunshine) is an important part of the farming recipe – we have certainly had no shortage of the former and so the livestock’s staple diet of grass has been available in abundance in what has been a very good growing season.

Our partnership with Grasmere Farm is now in full flow. This sees Nene Park lamb supplied through Grasmere’s own retail outlets as well as being on sale in the Visitor Centre at Ferry Meadows. We have, from the start of our farming journey with Nene Park, been passionate about bringing the produce from the partnership to local plates. We set out to farm in harmony with nature, in an extensive system using natural forage and with exacting standards on animal welfare. Grasmere’s own focus on and commitment to quality made them the perfect partner to complete the supply chain. From a personal perspective, there is real satisfaction in taking the lambs to a local abattoir ourselves, and knowing that Grasmere understand and value the provenance and quality of what we produce. In a short stint since formalising the relationship at the start of October, 150 lambs have been sold through Grasmere’s outlets. 2024 should see the launch of Nene Park’s Ruby Red Devon Beef, which we hope will be just as popular!

 The rams joined the ewes earlier in the autumn, so fingers crossed for lots of lambs in the spring. This year, 70 of the female progeny from the Nene Park flock joined the ranks of the breeding ewes. These were born as lambs out on the Rural Estate in 2022, and will themselves give birth in 2024. This is another important part of the farming system – having the right breed and quality of livestock to be able to produce all of our own female replacements, such that we only buy rams from external farms to introduce fresh bloodlines. The success of the system and the autumn efforts will be revealed by the pregnancy scanning of the ewes, which will take place in February of this year.

As for the cattle, they are now all off the fields and are in large straw bedded yards, enjoying the fruits of the hay and silage making labour of the summer. Numbers continue to grow, as we now have both the 2023 and 2022 born calves taking total numbers over 100. The cattle will grow slowly for a total of 24-30 months and will, we hope, be the makings of the Nene Park Ruby Red Devon Beef offering starting in 2024.

So, as another year draws to a close, a big thank you to those who have supported us in 2023. Whether stopping to say hello out on the Rural Estate or at Peterborough Celebrates, or buying Nene Park lamb – it all makes a difference and makes farming on Nene Park a real privilege. On to 2024!