Since returning to his home farm, Donkin Rigg, near Morpeth, two decades ago, Simon has not only grown the acreage, but the business as a whole. The biggest change was purchasing East Shield Farm and converting to organic in 2009. “With the increased acreage I was able to produce all feed on the holding, with only minerals bought in to protect against feed cost rises.”
Ivan Bainbridge, Simons Father, was one of 7 children born in Westmorland and raised in Blanchland in County Durham. He left home to set up on his own with his wife Elisabeth. They started with 2 cows, 12 sheep and 90 tenanted acres. In 1991 Ivan and his family moved to Donkin Rigg in Northumberland when they took on the tenancy of 360 acres from the National Trust. Since Simon returned from studying at Harper Adams the business has grown to the 1650 acres farmed today.
The farm has predominantly been farmed conventionally using continental breeds such as Limousin and Simmental in Autumn and Spring calving systems, early lambing with Autumn sown crops.
In 2009 the purchase of East Shield enabled the farm to develop and grow. It had the scope to be able to change to organic. The Monitor Farm process also helped develop and adjust the farm through breed choice, calving period and cropping.