From cattle to eco glamping: How an East Northants farm is ploughing new furrows
For three generations, the Singlehurst family has made its living farming 250 acres of land at Bulwick.
But this is 2019, and while traditional farming remains the beating heart of business for New Lodge Farm, diversification essential for survivial has come in an unusual form.
Two top-end off-grid glamping pods are the latest installation at the site just off the A43 north of Corby.
Believed to be the first of their kind installed in the area, the 6m x 3m cylindrical pods are the height of luxury.
Included in the airy, double-glazed eco pods are a wet-room, television, dining area, wardrobe, double bed, sofa, hob, sink, kettle, microwave and even a phone charging station.
Outside is a decking area and a firepit overlooking a brook that trickles through the farm.
Sarah and Simon Singlehurst developed the non-farming side of their business in response to customer demand.
They decided to start branching out from traditional farming a few years ago when Sarah began selling meat from the farm’s herd of 90 Aberdeen Angus cattle and 200 grazing sheep - owned alongside Simon’s cousin - at farmers’ markets.
She then realised that people wanted to see where their meat came from, so decided to open a small farm shop at their farm.
“We put a few seats outside the shop so people could stop and have a drink but obviously that was open to the elements a bit,” said Sarah.
“So we put a dome over the old pigsty and made a cafe.
“And we realised that people wanted to stay here. There’s a bit of a lack of camping facilities in Northamptonshire so we just went with it really.”
Six years on, there are pitches available for tents and caravans and all kinds of mobile living quarters including a huge RV that is currently parked behind the shower block.
Manager Jackie Creasey said: “There are all kinds of events that go on - the Rockingham Dog Show, the horse trials and game fair - and people need somewhere local and cheap to stay. We get bird watchers and cyclists. We’re close to Stamford and Oundle and Rutland so we get people staying with us for events there.
“People come from all over the place and we even get people from just up the road who want to get away from it all for a weekend.”
The campsite is for adults only, although there is a field available for school and DofE groups, and the shower and toilet blocks - based in an old Victorian Dairy - are sparkling and spacious with not a bit of grot in sight.
“We thought long and hard about the glamping pods after realising that people love a weekend away in the countryside but don’t always have a tent or a caravan,” said Sarah.
“It’s the farming that makes our heart beat and we’d never, ever give that up, but this is a small family firm and the potential for us to exand in other directions is very, very limited.
“Unless you’re a big estate it’s really difficult to diversify.”
Sarah is not your typical farmer - she gives all her cows names based on themes. She has a Lyddington, a Duddington and a Cotterstock as well as a Laura Trott, a Mo Farah and a Jessica Ennis. She also works at nearby Uppingham School in what little time she has remaining.
The whole farm is run by a cluster of solar panels in a small field near the road, there’s a biomass boiler and grey water is filtered through an on-site Klargester to transform it back into drinking water
The farm also puts on special Friday night farmhouse suppers which are popular with the locals as well as campers. And its hog beef and lamb roasts are a staple at local fetes and fairs.
You can find out more on the farm’s website