In fact 1 million bees!

When two brothers from a pig farm in Suffolk asked a small group of visitors to come on down and take a look at the farm’s latest sustainability project Feeney wasn’t quite ready for what Mark & Paul Hayward had in store. Feeney was over the moon to be invited to Dingley Dell for an educational day, learning all about “the birds and the bees (as if he didn’t already know!) Instead of being knee deep in pig sh*t he was waist deep in sweet-smelling flowers, with meadows buzzing with bumblebees, butterflies and other fragile little pollinators busy at work collecting nectar & pollen from every single bloom.

The Hayward brothers own Dingley Dell – a pig farm producing some of the best pork in the UK. Animal welfare is of the highest standard here, the passion and respect for each animal reared on this farm is how all pigs should be raised, no intensive farming in crates here. Piglets are born in spacious farrowing sheds and stay close to their Mothers, they venture outside when they are ready and live in spacious conditions in fields not intensive pens on concrete floors.

At a time when we as consumers are demanding higher quality food at a cheaper price, it’s a tough time for British farmers. Sustainability is a word that rolls of the tongue far too easily these days but on this particular visit, Feeney saw first hand the passion and investment (in time, not just money) this farm has committed as part of their long-term goal to increase the bumblebee and pollinators numbers on their land.

Gill Perkins CEO of the BumbleBee Conservation Trust joined Feeney with a group of professionals from the hospitality industry who were all fascinated to see the lengths Dingley Dell has gone to creating the perfect environment for bumblebees, insects, birds and wildlife to thrive on. Their ambition to feed 1 million bees on their farm and encourage other farmers and landowners to do the same on their excess land. The group included Matt Dawes from Row & Son’s (who manufacture traditional handcrafted bespoke wooden butchers blocks and serving platters) industry friends also included Direct Meats who have helped fund this remarkable project at Dingley Dell Farm. During the afternoon bee identification got everyone looking more closely about the different types of bumblebees and the habitat they prefer. A new Queen even made an appearance!

In total Feeney saw the vast expanse of 36 hectares of land planted with varieties of nectar-rich wildflowers and grasses that provide the perfect habitat for nature to flourish. Feeney was blown away with the miles and miles of blooms and the abundance of bumblebees, butterflies and native birds, which had also seen declining numbers. The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust is committed to raising awareness and encouraging everyone to use fewer chemicals and pesticides along with making sure our community is doing it’s best to help by planting bee-friendly plants.

Everyone received a warm welcome on to the farm by resident pooch a Border Terrier called Elvis!

Like the Hayward brothers and Gill Perkins, Feeney wants to encourage more chefs and manufacturers to ask their food suppliers, farmers and producers what they are doing for the environment. It’s not just about ticking boxes to get through rigorous accreditation it’s about companies, individuals and farmers all taking a little bit of responsibility in helping nature. Without bees there would be no food! If there’s no food what is Feeney going to do?
It was a fun and thought provoking day for Feeney – what happens next is up to us all!

If you want to know more about Dingley Dell’s #millionbeesonfarm please take a look at a recent article in The Caterer. You can also join the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust – or even better buy one as a gift for a friend.