Smithy’s Farm has been a family enterprise since 1905, and this distinctive black and white farmhouse has been home to five generations of our family. The land is a mixture of meadows, banks and ancient woodland, and has evolved over the decades through phases of arable, beef, dairy and sheep farming. In 1999 the land was converted to an organic holding.
The title ‘Smithy’ extends to all who take the surname, and the current Smiths are; Smithy Senior, (better known as Di), Smithy (Alan) and Lil’ Smithy (Ella).
Former Smiths are well remembered, whether for their extreme achievements in farming, as with Lewis Smith, or for their legendary baking and bed and breakfast catering, as with Mary Smith. One thing’s for sure, no Smith stands alone, supported as they are (and always have been) by parents, spouses, siblings and friends. It’s the diversity in family that built the diversity into our farming.
Alongside farming, Di Smith’s passion for horses and her equestrian skill evolved into a successful DIY livery yard. The farm provides stables, grass keep, hay and straw supplies and facilities to local riders, with rides extending over 200 acres.
Commercial businesses first utilised the barns here when Smithy’s partner set up her soft furnishings business in the first floor granary. Two bays of this traditional red brick barn soon spread into four. Smithy got thinking… and three years ago converted four more of his agricultural buildings to commercial units which have supported the growth of a variety of businesses in that time.
The farm has a history of housing guests in the main farmhouse, and after the Second World War old Granny Smith hosted bed and breakfast to counteract the rigours of rations with farm produce. Nowadays the house is the centre of farm operations and guests come camping instead on our favourite meadow, whilst we have three properties we let on a residential basis.
And, at the heart of it all, is the farm itself…
Organic farming started in 1999 when Smithy converted the dairy herd to organic. In 2005, when milk prices plummeted, he sold the herd off and reinvested in the land by extending the acreage and moving into organic arable. Some years this is hugely rewarding; when you see a golden field of near weed-free corn waiting to be harvested. Other years it is more challenging; when weed, disease or the weather work against all your best efforts. But once you’ve started farming organically it is very hard to go back, the natural growth of plants reveals itself to you and the natural capacity of soil. Whilst we will often drive past a neighbour’s perfect field of conventional corn and drool at its lack of thistles, docks and nettles, farming organically has taught us to live with our imperfections, and savour the blackberries that come with the brambles.
Our greatest reward (and challenge) in organic farming is our potato crop. We are fiercely loyal to one variety; the Picasso, a white spud with pink eyes that is a great all-rounder on the menu. In recent years the weather has made growing this gem a challenge as it is not highly disease resistant, but we stick with it due to its great taste and our customer’s loyalty. To balance the challenges of weather we have now added other varieties to our planting and experiment annually with new varieties.
We sell potatoes direct from the farm in our converted granary barn shop. We also sell other vegetables, grown by local organic farmers, and sometimes ourselves. Look out for the Smithy’s Farm signs on your way between Ludlow and Leominster and drop in to our shop.