Andrew Wear and Jen Hunter – Fernhill Farm
Products with provenance forms our holistic message to re-educate, recognise true potential and incorporate every aspect of our natural resources.
Fernhill Farm is a small family farm in Somerset offering 15000 visitors / annum the opportunity to stay on a multi-purpose livestock farm focusing on regenerative agriculture in Somerset. Shepherd Andrew Wear and his partner, Jen Hunter created the opportunity to grow their family business as the ‘Fernhill Farm Experience’ after acquiring a derelict grade II listed farmstead in the late nineties.
The wool from their sheep is bought and traced by The Woolkeepers® and this farm was also home to our Positive Sheep Wellbeing Workshop last year. Their farm was re-established as an eco-farm, it spans 160 acres comprising mainly grasslands with 10 acres of woodland, orchard and kitchen garden. Accessing additional grazing, they farm 1200 ewes, 40 cattle, together with woodland pigs and offer visitors staying at their farm-yard accommodation zero food and fibre miles with complete transparency and traceability.
We have been working with Jen for a number of years and wanted to get to know her a little better by asking the question ‘why choose wool?”.
“Wool has been my passion and concern since 2009 when the devaluation of natural fibres and promotion of synthetics left behind an excellent base material suitable for many industries. As a 2014 Nuffield Farming Scholar I researched global wool industry trends and we strive to reposition wool in society as a primary product rather than a by-product from the sheep meat industry “Jen Hunter NSc. I use the strap line “ancient fibre of the future” when talking about wool as its almost the forgotten fibre. Humans enjoy new thinking, seeing something for the first time and clever marketing targets these obsessive behaviours.
As we evolve the biggest Human need is food and fibre and both are following the same twist of reversal with slow food and local textiles coming back in fashion. Personally, I don’t like the word “fashion” as to me it implies an item that will soon be outdated whereas a tweed jacket, woolly jumper, hat, gloves, socks, blanket, bedding, rug, carpet, etc are all timeless essentials. Delicate human skin will always require a protective layer to provide comfort and protection, the same as the earth needs a covering of living green vegetation that allows it to breathe too. I much prefer to share the thinking of wool as “everyday wear”, something that protects us, enables us to work hard, rest cosily and play knowing we have protection in the most natural environment we all should admire – the great outdoors.
What I find most fascinating about wool product design, is the clever incorporation of the many types of fibre all around the body of the sheep, which means she has actually done a lot of the prep work for us by making fibres different lengths and thicknesses, all depending on wear-ability – how did we forgot to see that sheep live in their wool whatever the weather, topography, environment and have been doing this successfully for a very long time now. Sheep are on every continent that Humans have inhabited – this is not by chance! Man-made fibres are new and without years of evolution and the saddest part is coming to light – this being the chemical synthesis of both fossil fuels and transformation of natural ingredients and their obvious disruptive trail of global pollution. Unlike naturally grown fibres, synthetic fibres are not biodegradable, prevent our own skin breathe, some are dangerously flammable yet we continually surround ourselves with fake imitations The biggest race against time has begun within agriculture and the growing of both our food and our fibres – Humans cannot survive without either and need to assess the impact of hooves from regenerative ruminants and how this will allow the green photosynthetic skin of the earth to breathe whilst growing food and a fibre that doesn’t need to hinder our future existence
We thank The Woolkeepers® for helping growers and making it easier for us to say these words out loud as we all need to wake up to WOOL. What is required next is every day, everyone who has the power of purchasing, uses it more wisely.
Find out more here: https://www.fernhill-farm.co.uk/