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Farmers' Market Focus: Pick's Organic Farm

This month we speak to Horniman Farmers' Market regulars, Pick's Organic Farm, about how they run a business that's been in the family for centuries. 

Hi, can you introduce yourselves to our readers?

We're Pick's Organic Farm, we're a family business from Leicestershire, in fact, the farm has been with the family for centuries. We have six full-time employees and ten working part-time. Our whole farm is organic and we farm cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. Our cows and lambs are all grass fed, and our beef is hung for at least 21 days. 

What do you sell at the Horniman Farmers' Market? 

We cook our homemade 'old spot ' sausage hot dogs, breakfast rolls, homemade beef burgers, farmer's frenzy meat feast (which has a taste of everything), and our challenge burger. They all come served in an organic roll baked by Aston's Bakery. We have the usual condiments along with our homemade 'Mrs Pick's Old Homestead Chutney' made to an old recipe of Mrs. Pick's from our own Bradley apples.

Why is being an organic farm so important to you?

The farm has been in the family for hundreds of years but was converted to organic in 1999. Our reasons for converting to organic were mainly moral ones. Tim's father died aged 48 from an enlarged liver which we believe was brought on by the chemicals which were used in farming at the time and I wanted my children to grow up being able to eat an apple from the tree and a carrot from the ground and see the butterflies in the fields.

Organic farming works with nature rather than eradicating it. We have seen fields with cracks inches wide because there is no goodness left in the soil and crops are grown reliant on chemicals. It isn't a sustainable way to farm and now we aren't reliant on a chemical company telling us what to do in order to make our grass grow we just spread a bit of old fashioned muck around. Organic farming works on good practices, rotation, and a lot of work. Our animals don't need antibiotics to keep them alive, they have fresh air green grass and the freedom to roam.

What work is currently happening down at the farm right now?

At the moment we are busy hay making. We have recently had the sheep shorn and have just had delivery of our goslings and turkeys for Christmas.

What's the best thing about running the farm?

We work every day of the week. Monday is my favourite day of the week as it is sheep day and after the driving and bustle of the London weekend markets it's the day that we bring the sheep in to sort out any problems and it is such a contrast and so quiet.

It sounds very intense, when do you get a break?

We do occasionally take a holiday but never longer than a week. We always stagger holidays with family members and have to work around lambing, haymaking, harvest, and Christmas which are all very busy times when it's all hands on deck.

Farmers' Market Focus: Damaris Designs

Please introduce yourself…

My name is Damaris Copus and I am at the Horniman Farmers' Market as Damaris Designs.

What do you do at the Farmers’ Market?

I grow flowers, trees, fruit and vegetables, and make floral arrangements, wreaths and garlands, using both home-grown and foraged materials. I use pesticide free flowers, working with all the seasons and using natural forms as inspiration

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

Tell us about how you grow your produce?

I grow a lot of my materials in Polhill, Kent, in my woodland edge garden and on my large allotment. I live in Kent half the time, with my family and friends.

The garden is on a piece of land that had been used to park diggers while building the M25. As you can imagine, this left its mark and I have spent over ten years healing the land with massive amounts of homemade compost, manure from our chickens and leaf mould which we make in huge quantity.

I also have a small piece of land in mid-Wales, where our family has lived for nearly 30 years. I also use materials from here, and we mainly use the land for roses, willows, pines and many other trees.

Lastly, I often use flowers and foliage which has been grown by friends and family, or that grow in gardens that I maintain for customers. But strictly only those without pesticides, and only with owner’s permission.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

When you aren’t at our Farmers’ Market, where can we find you?

I hold workshops teaching wreath-making, and summer workshops teaching floral head dress making. My busiest time is Christmas, making and selling wreaths and holding workshops, but I never have a very quiet time.

Sometimes I take to the road at fairs and festivals and sell woodcarvings made by my family and friends, chestnut arches, hazel plant supports and arts and crafts. I love to pick up interesting artisan objects on my travels, which I use to display plants and flowers, and I often have baskets or pots for sale, depending on where I have been camped and who I have met.

I sometimes design or maintain gardens for clients, and I will only accept work which falls in with my basic principles of natural (and sometimes wild) growing.

I work on my gardens and woods whenever I can; sometimes every day for a week but often just a few hours, 3 or 4 times a week. My garden style might best be described as relaxed and naturalistic, but this still involves a lot of work!

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus


Why is being pesticide free important to you?

I work in a way that reflects my available time and my principles. Having worked on many farms over the years, I know that biodynamic and organic growing produces great results, but I don't align myself to their movements exclusively. In practice, this means that I would never use pesticide, industrially produced fertiliser or herbicides.

I have great results using only homemade fertilisers: comfrey and nettle juice used sparingly, for instance. I also recycle materials such as tyres to build beds, rather than buying new products. I try to garden in tune with the moon and I am very 'low impact' on my environment in terms of water use, as we collect and store rainwater to use. This careful use of water is in marked contrast to some conventional growers, who are heavy users of both natural and industrial resources.

I have always grown in this way, influenced by my mother who is a great believer in the importance of compost and is a defender of bees. We need insects to feed birds and poison will kill good and bad insects indiscriminately. We are all part of the same living system and I would love to leave a better and healthier world for my own and other children.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

What does being part of the Horniman mean to you?

I am really thrilled to have the opportunity to trade at the Horniman. I visited the Museum and grounds a few years ago, and was very taken by it. The market is very friendly and the standard of the products available is high.

What do you enjoy doing away from the Farmers’ Market?

I make time to travel when I can and have just returned from a road trip to the flower meadows of the Apuseni Mountains, Romania. It was one of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen.

On my return I was relieved to find that it had been raining in Kent, and my garden is full of fab blooms just waiting to be picked. Jim had sown the seeds that I left, so with luck I will have flowers for months to come.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

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