Varfell Farms has formally launched as a LEAF Demonstration Farm in recognition of its cutting-edge sustainable farming practices. Based at Long Rock, Penzance, along the spectacular Cornish coast, Varfell is also one of the UK's largest agri-business firms, supplying blooms and bulbs to multiple retailers including M&S, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys, B&Q and exporting into Europe. As well as daffodils, the business also grows over 1 million stems of agapanthus and peonies. The farm has been LEAF Marque certified since 2012.
Today's launch comes as we reach the end of the Penwith Landscape Partnership's Farming Futures project, working with farmers to support farm businesses that are sensitive to Penwith's landscape, heritage, and biodiversity. The project has supported a number of growers in the region to become LEAF Marque certified and has worked to promote farming practices that are sustainable and conducive to protecting and enhancing the soil; and conserving and protecting the natural, built, and cultural heritage of the Penwith region.
With its focus on more regenerative agricultural practices, underpinned by the belief that "what is better for nature is better for profitability," Varfell is an exemplar of more nature-based techniques delivered through the principles of Integrated Farm Management (IFM). Following significant investment over the last decade, it has improved soil and plant health, reduced erosion and runoff as well as minimized input costs. A diverse rotation, including cover cropping elements carefully designed to enhance soil health; controlled traffic farming to minimize soil compaction; reduced tillage to promote beneficial microbes and, are all part of the farm's regenerative approach.
The farm is also at the forefront of driving innovation and uses the latest automation technology, such as optical grades, GPS, drones, satellite imagery, radar, and lidar, to drive efficiencies across the business.
Welcoming Varfell Farms as a LEAF Demonstration Farm, LEAF's Technical Director, Vicky Robinson, said: "We are delighted to welcome Varfell Farms as LEAF's first cut flower Demonstration Farm as we embark on an exciting new era and look to strengthen the breadth of sectors in the LEAF Network. It is absolutely critical that we link up with leading businesses to promote best practices and thinking into more sustainable, regenerative growing techniques across a wide range of farming sectors."
"Varfell Farms is leading the way in what can be achieved as we accelerate sustainable, regenerative farming in the cut flower industry. The work being carried out here, the commitment of everyone involved throughout the business will bring a wealth of expertise and crucial information on the role and development of Integrated Farm Management in this sector."
As a LEAF Demonstration Farm, Varfell will act as an important local and national hub for demonstration, learning, and knowledge exchange. As well as hosting visits for other growers, it will offer a 'living classroom' for a broad range of community groups to see more integrated, climate-positive practices in action.
Simon Gardner, Farms Director at Varfell Farms, added: "We are hugely excited about the opportunities this partnership will offer to drive forward greater uptake of more climate-positive approaches in our sector. Being a LEAF Demonstration Farm will help improve understanding of what more regenerative farming looks like in action and how all elements of a growing system work together in a holistic way to optimize not just environmental, but also social and economic sustainability."
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