Simon and Jane Brooke bought Merricks Organic Farm in 1992 having both decided to have a career change and relocate to the South Somerset levels. Without any previous farming experience, apart from an allotment, there followed a steep two year learning curve in how to grow organic fruit and vegetables, coping with pests, predators and weeds.
The farm is small, totaling just 30 acres and licensed by the Soil Association. 5 acres are devoted to vegetables, herbs and cut flowers together with just over an acre of orchards producing mostly apples with a few pears, plums and cherries. The additional land is used to produce hay or silage depending on the weather.
With the aid of four large polytunnels and a greenhouse over 115 different varieties of vegetables and herbs are produced. In the orchard are some twenty old and local varieties of apple. Apart from occasional surpluses that are wholesaled, all the produce is used in the seasonal box scheme which supplies around 50 local families between June and February each season. The farm also supplies loose vegetables to local shops.
Their aim is to grow and supply top quality seasonal organic produce at a reasonable price to a local population from a sustainable method of production.
There are many good box schemes across the country but two distinguishing features about Simon and Jane's are its freshness and traceability. For freshness all vegetables are harvested on the morning of packing which means that, apart from winter stored items such as onions and potatoes, all the produce is less than 24 hours old on delivery. As to traceability their aim is to produce everything on the farm so that the customer can have total confidence as to where the produce has come from and the standards to which it has been produced. This philosophy extends to Jane raising all the farm's plant seedlings on site. This year they anticipate that all the box contents will have been grown on the farm.
Merricks Organic Farm is a small local producer, it’s drop off points are within small local shops. The farm has a small farm shop open every day from dawn till dusk stocked only with produce grown or made on the farm. The farm will if asked host farm walks to local clubs. Farm and box scheme customers receive a fortnightly newsletter and an availability list, and they are welcome anytime to come and have a look around.