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Days at Daylesford

20.09.21

L-J Andrew draws inspiration from the pioneering testament to sustainable living that is Daylesford Organic, and gleans a deeper insight into the brand’s firebrand success with company founder, Carole Bamford OBE

Perhaps more than ever in the current climate, the need for certainty is paramount in people’s lives. It’s a challenger mindset shared by Carole Bamford, founder and owner of leading sustainable living brand Daylesford, for whom understanding where our food comes from, and how it’s produced is a continuing quest for clarity. The germ of an idea for Carole’s company started over 40 years ago when she attended an agricultural event and experienced at first hand the nascent, yet strong rooted organic farming movement. Passion ignited by their game changing ethos, she set about converting her family’s farms in Staffordshire and Gloucestershire to a more organic, responsible method of land cultivation.

Enthused by the prospect of growing ‘real food’, Carole was confident that others would feel the same. So much so, in 2002 she opened the first Daylesford café in Gloucestershire and as the organic word spread – several more sites opened in Gloucestershire, Pimlico Road, Notting Hill and Marylebone, alongside a family of virtual farm shops.

Carole recalls: “Farming organically at Daylesford really came about after a series of chance encounters. The first happened when we were living in Wootton in Staffordshire. It was the late 70s; I had not long given birth to my eldest daughter Alice and I was in the garden, pushing her around in her pram. We went to look at the roses I had planted just a few days earlier, only to find that they were wilting. Like most farms at this time, we had oversized fields because of all of the hedgerows had been pulled out to free up space. I spoke to the farmer next door who explained that most farms were being sprayed with Roundup. I didn’t even know what that was, but I quickly cottoned on that it was a powerful herbicide and that the toxins had been carried in the air from the fields, causing my roses to wilt. As a new mum, I was horrified. I instantly realised that we couldn’t carry on harming the earth in this way – for our children and for future generations, we had to stop. It seemed so simple and obvious: unless we look after the health of the soil, we cannot produce healthy food for humans or for our animals.”

From this initial light-bulb moment, Daylesford has grown from strength to strength, spearheading the sustainable farming movement across the UK, as well as igniting the movement’s power for change globally. At its heart, the company remains committed to producing seasonal produce from a relaxed, beautiful and eco-friendly environment, even expanding their core philosophy and traditional approach to the coast of Provence, Leoube, the home of Chateau Leoube. The award-winning organic wines and olive oils produced there are based on biodynamic principles and traditional, back-to-basics harvesting technique.

Reflecting on the brand’s success, Carole adds: “More and more people want to know what they’re eating and how their food is produced – and they’re arming themselves with information, seeking out and supporting the businesses and producers that are behaving responsibly. With organic food, that reassurance and transparency come from being certified by the Soil Association. As a farm, it’s a source of enormous pride to our company that all of our products hold that certification. It’s a vital indicator to our customers that not only are they purchasing something sustainable and ethical, but also as a business, that we’re going that bit further and having a positive impact on the planet.”

More recently, Daylesford has expanded beyond organic farming, to opening a cookery school, as well as launching a new holiday rental company Wild Rabbit Holiday Cottages based in the Cotswolds, alongside their namesake Daylesford Organic Garden.

With its grand opening in May, this brand new garden space dedicated to all elements of outdoor living, is a true case study for sustainability. The centre has been constructed using natural materials including timber from silver birch trees felled on the estate and features soil walls built with roots for the Market Garden. Working closely with the teams to create a new range of garden furniture, Carole has also curated a range of her favourite British-grown seasonal plants.

She enthuses: “The Garden Centre truly honours Daylesford’s bold beginnings; sharing the reasons we started farming organically and caring for the earth’s soil in the first place. But our aim is also to encourage others to engage with nature and the outdoors. There’s so much creativity to come by growing produce ourselves. I love planning ahead for the different seasons, mixing colours and shapes, and trying new varieties of plant to see what will work well. I hope we can inspire others to celebrate and enjoy their own outdoor space– whether that’s a balcony, window sill, patio or garden.”

As to the future, with her nature to never stop creating, Carole has big plans for Daylesford to reduce its carbon footprint. She explains: “We’ve just started work on auditing our carbon emissions, so we can implement changes to reduce them, improve our soil health and balance out our carbon output. I can’t wait to share more on this initiative over the coming months.”

Organic Accolade

The extensive and dedicated work carried out at Daylesford, by Carole and her team championing a sustainable lifestyle, has resulted in the brand’s first Green Star Award by the Michelin Guide earlier this year. Created to recognise and celebrate restaurants for their sustainability and environmental food and farming practices, the Green Star Award highlights businesses at the forefront of this burgeoning sector. About the award, Carole says: “Aside from the honour of receiving such a distinction; what it demonstrates is that organisations such as Michelin are acknowledging the importance of the work that needs to be done in this area, whilst encouraging the industry to examine its environmental footprint. It’s a significant step in the right direction”

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