John Pawsey's family have farmed in Suffolk for four generations. John starting farming at Lavenham Lodge Farm in 1985 with his Grandfather. He started converting the farm to organic production in 1999 due to concerns about overworked soils and diminishing biodiversity on the farm. We now farm entirely organically on our own home farm and for some neighbouring like-minded farmers. Livestock were reintroduced onto the farm in 2014 in the form of New Zealand Romney sheep to recycle nutrients. With our motivated and enthusiastic team, our challenge is to use modern technology to control weeds, pests and diseases without the use of pesticides, build fertility naturally using legumes and green manures with the aim of leaving our soil in good heart for future generations as well as having a positive effect on biodiversity and operating as a carbon negative farm.
The Former Lavenham USAAF Airfield, Station 137.
On part of the farm is the former USAAF Lavenham Airfield which was built in 1943 on land bought by John's maternal Great Grandfather John Wood Alston in 1904. David Alston, John's Grandfather and family remained on site while the airfield was operational with John's mother cycling to school under the wings Liberators and Flying Fortresses. The Group stationed at the base were the 487th Bomb Group and two plaques on the front of the now restored Control Tower dedicate the arified to their memory as well as a plaque dedicated to the Alston family for their friendship to those based here. More can be found about the 487th at http://www.487thbg.org.
The airstrips and buildings on the airfield were only designed to last 30 years and in 1990 a proportion of the runways were taken up due to dilapidation with an area in the middle of the perimeter track being re-landscaped with trees and hedges. The control tower has now been refurbished and is currently used as a private office with the Stars and Stripes being flown every 4th July in honor of those who died while stationed at the base.
If you would like to visit the airfield, please contact us.
One of the most romantic areas of the farm is Alpheton Wood, a registered site of special scientific interest. It is the most northerly wood in the Kentwell Woods complex and is noted for its beautiful collection of oxslips, orchids and other wild flowers, and was eulogized by the ecologist Oliver Rackham. It is now undergoing long term restoration which started in 2010 in the form of the ancient practice of rotational coppicing. It is fenced to protect the new coppice from deer damage, with the resulting timber providing a sustainable source of fuel used to heat our farm buildings, office, home and Shimpling Park Barn.
Some years ago John was given some owl boxes as a thank you for his time as Chair of the Suffolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and the chicks below were the product of the first year. We have since found that the original inhabitants are now sharing the farm with three generations of offspring in additional boxes.
We have also commissioned a long term bird survey with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust particularly looking at the populations of declining arable bird species. The early results suggest that our organic farming methods are providing an excellent habitat for red and amber list species including Skylarks, Song Thrushes, Linnets, Yellow Hammers, Whitethroats and Dunnocks.
On entering a Natural England environmental scheme in February 2013, we commissioned some historical research on the two derelict moated sites at each end of the farm. The results indicated that Shimpling Park was an ancient deer park with it's boundaries still marked by pollarded oak trees with the two moated sites being the entrances to the park.
Part of our environmental work on the farm is landscape restoration, some of which can been seen in the recreation of part of the park to the south of Shimpling Park Farm now grazed by our Romney ewes.