Leasowe Farm is situated on the South East side of Radford Semele, just outside Leamington Spa (see map) and is owned and run by the Ingall Family (Jane, John, their son, Tom, and daughter-in-law, Caz). The farm covers an area of about 145 acres, which, in the autumn of 2011 became 100% organic, certified with the Soil Association (the land has been converted in parcels since 2005). Roughly 120 acres of the farm are in arable production, leaving the rest to a variety of different enterprises. These include: the land rented by the CSA (veg and fruit fields); an extensive nut orchard; a site for shiitake mushroom production; and a few pastureland fields. There is also an area of mature semi-ancient natural woodland (about 6 acres) and in winter 2004-05 another 10 acre field was planted up with a new native woodland, with the help of a grant from the Forestry Commission and many hugely helpful local volunteers!
The Ingall family purchased the farm in 1994 and have brought many conservation benefits to the farm since it came under their stewardship. This has included, among other things: the digging of ponds; planting new hedges; bringing many of the existing hedges back into management (including laying some, and cutting others on a 3 year rotation); planting wild flower meadows; and entering into DEFRA OELS (organic entry level stewardship) scheme.
As of February 2011, the main products to come from Leasowe Farm are shiitake mushrooms and stoneground, wholemeal flour (milled at the local Charlecote Water Mill). These are both marketed under the name of Dryad Organics and, so far, have been sold through 3 main local outlets: the CSA, Gaia Wholefoods, and Hilltop Farm Shop. The hope is for the nut orchard to start producing healthy quantities of chestnuts, hazelnuts, heartnuts, walnuts and pine nuts over the coming years and the next stage of the arable rotation is to start to grow oats, beans, peas, and barley.
While Leasowe Farm as a whole system has not been specifically designed according to permaculture principles, the Ingall family (Tom and Caz in particular) have a strong passion for this approach to land use and try to integrate many permaculture practices not only into the way the land is used but within their own lives as well. Food, community, and an innate sense of well-being coming from a strong connection to the land are essential elements in how they view their stewardship of this beautiful, hidden bit of the Warwickshire landscape.