What I like about working with OF&G is that you can pick up the phone to your organic certification officer anytime and ask questions. You get to know them and you can enjoy a laugh with them. It’s a supportive relationship.
Emma Robinson and Ian O’Reilly
Pasteurising, Bottling, Meat Cutting, Packing, Processing
Gazegill Organics in Lancashire has been farmed by the Robinson family for over 500 years. The current custodians Emma Robinson and Ian O’Reilly took over the reins in 2004. Emma’s parents certified the farm with OF&G in 1999.
The 280-acre farm has a number of traditional and indigenous breeds and they produce fantastic organic meat and dairy products. Ian and Emma take their responsibility as organic farmers seriously. Their approach is about respecting the land and working with nature to make a really sustainable farm business.
Ian, said: “Emma’s parents decided to certify Gazegill Farm in the 1990s. They chose to work with OF&G because they offered a straightforward process, it was practical and it fitted the bill. They were encouraged by the OF&G’s passion for organic.”
“What I like about working with OF&G is that you can pick up the phone to your organic certification officer anytime and ask questions. You get to know them and you can enjoy a laugh with them. It’s a supportive relationship. OF&G are a forward-thinking organisation and have a fantastic, practical approach to organic certification. It’s not about adding on extras and selling you things you don’t need or want – it’s definitely a cost-effective option.
“If you’re considering converting to organic, I’d recommend you speak to OF&G. You will find nothing but good information and excellent guidance. They are there to help you get certified and not there as a policing body. They want to help you with the process. It’s a very big thing to convert and it can be made very easy or extremely difficult, but with OF&G you are in safe hands.”
Gazegill are finding that more and more customers are turning to organic because they trust the in-depth organic certification process. The EU’s green leaf organic symbol is becoming more recognised. Increasingly people understand it represents a fully traceable route from farm to fork.
Ian, said: “The organic sector is a supportive community. We work with lots of other organic farmers – and we all have a common goal. Our aim is to put more in to the land than we take out. We farm for habitat and for nature. We are a like-minded movement, changing things for the better and encouraging others to do the same. It’s great to be a part of that network.”
The Gazegill Farm dairy herd has been antibiotic free for five years. Before this time, antibiotic use was minimal but the cows are now healthier than they’ve ever been.
Ian explains: “For us, antibiotics are there if absolutely necessary. We believed that if we stopped using them, a natural immunity would build in our herd and we are seeing that now. But it’s not just antibiotics; it’s heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides that are being used with almost complete abandon. Agriculture land is becoming toxic and it’s getting into the food chain. It’s a real worry.
“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” This describes Ian and Emma’s approach to farming. For them, organic farming is a way of safeguarding their future. Rather than relying on new technologies and chemicals, they focus on looking after their soil and animals.
“We cannot continue to farm in the way we have done in the past. We can’t expect our land to be green, pleasant and fertile in the future because it won’t be if we continue to use harmful practices. Damage has been been done, but organic is the way forward.”