Courses, Consultancy & Educational Visits
Are you interested in learning more about what we do here at Smiling Tree Farm or how we can help you develop your farm or micro-dairy to meet your goals?
There are several ways to visit, learn or get advice & support:
Meet the cows & calves - we are always happy to take customers to meet the cows & calves, just ask when ordering your produce.
Farm Walk & Talk - our next walk & talk is on Sunday 23 June at 2pm. You need to book this in advance, see below for more details.
Volunteering - each year we host WWOOF UK volunteers to help the development of the farm in exchange for room, board and learning opportunities. Find out more here.
Courses - for those who would like more indepth knowledge then try one of our short courses:
- Soil health & (mob) grazing management - 2 June 2019
- Starting & running a micro-dairy - 11 & 12 May 2019
- Keeping a house cow - 25 & 26 May 2019
Bestpoke training & Consultancy - I can provide bespoke individual training on any aspect of our regenerative farming methods and high-welfare, natural production of beef and dairy. I can also work with you on a consultancy basis to provide advice and support to help you overcome specific challenges or to develop your farm or micro-dairy to meet your goals. More details below.
Tailored educational visits - we host tailored educational visits, fun days out and private farm tours for groups or individuals, perhaps those not intending to farm but keen to spend a day or half day learning about food production, both what we do at Smiling Tree and how it differs from conventional food systems. Please email Christine with your needs.
Business meeting space with a difference - we have a fully equipped meeting room, projector, whiteboards and flip charts, kitchen facilities. Why not host your next off-site meeting somewhere different. Please email Christine with your needs.
Presentations - I can give an illustrated talk and presentation at your event, conference or for your interested group. There is no charge to give a talk for a not-for-profit organisation, although travel expense reimbursement may be welcome depending on the distance.
Farm Walk & Talk
Why not join us on one of our farm walk & talks which we host at various times through the year. The walk is approx 1hr long, weather permitting, followed by tea & coffee (feel free to bring a snack) and an illustrated talk of approx 1hr, plus Q&A. The talk covers:
- Our farm vision & what we do
- An introduction to soil science & the carbon cycle
- Cows, climate change & carbon sequestration
- Mob-grazing: mimicking natural grazing patterns
- Pasture diversity: soil, plant, animal & human health
- The link between soil health, flavour & nutrition
- Increasing vital nutrients in our produce
- Animal welfare & how we produce ethical meat & milk
These events are free for customers. For non-customers there is a charge of £5 per person.
The next farm walk & talk is on Sunday 23 June at 2pm, to book your place please fill in the booking form here.
Soil Health & Pasture Management (mob grazing)
This course is aimed at those who wish to improve their pasture's productivity, drought tolerance & diversity, and it's ability to capture sunlight, feed & protect the soil, grow, sequester carbon, feed their livestock, recover, repeat.
There will be a mix of classroom based learning along with a tour of our mob-grazing paddocks to assess & measure grass, visualise daily demand, see the various infrastructure options and moooove our mob!
STOP PRESS: Niels Corfield, soil health expert, will be joining us as guest speaker for this course & taking a spade to the soils of Smiling Tree to see what goes on underground.
- What is mob-grazing & how does it differ from other grazing systems
- Will mob-grazing deliver the results you desire
- How to use mob-grazing to improve drought tolerance
- The importance of soil health & the carbon cycle
- How to capture the maxiumum sunlight, boost plant photosynthesis, sequester carbon & turn sunlight into nutrient-rich meat & milk with a positive influence on the planet
- Calculating stocking density, paddock sizes, grass growth & rest periods
- Permanent vs temporary paddocks
- How to create your own grazing plan (excel template provided)
- Infrastructure & equipment
- Monitoring progress & making adjustments
- If, when & how to add more diversity to the pasture
- Benefits of Holistic Management & Pasture for Life production
- Common pitfalls to avoid
Course date: Sunday, 2 June 2019 10am-5pm.
Cost: £75 + vat (£90) per person, with a 10% discount on multiple bookings eg £135 + vat (£162) for two, including full handouts & electronic grazing plan template, a proper home-prepared lunch, tea, cake & refreshments.
Starting & Running a Micro-Dairy
This is a business-focused two day course aimed at those looking seriously at starting a micro-dairy and wanting to know more about the different dairying systems, the costs of production, income potential and how to put a financial & business plan together as well as the rules, regulations & HACCPs for selling direct.
This course is predominently classroom based along with tours of our facilities, pastures & cow-calf micro-dairy herd. It focuses on the business aspects rather than the detailed practicalities of keeping & milking cows other than how this impacts the product, and assumes some knowledge of dairying, though this is not essential.
- Your goals: identifying the key motivators for running a micro-dairy & how it fits within your ‘whole’, setting expectations & how you will measure ‘success’
- The system: type of cow, milking once-a-day or twice, grain supplemented or Pasture for Life production, cow-calf dairying or conventional, how this links to your product, price & customer expectations
- The land: pastures, grazing practices, acres per cow, winter forage requirements
- The facilities: buildings, milking parlour, processing room, equipment, storage of products & packaging
- The product: yield expectations, milk quality, processing, what will you sell
- The market: sales, marketing, customers
- The law: dealing with authorities (Food Standards Agency, Environmental Health, Trading Standards), rules, regulations, HACCP, labelling, record keeping, milk safety testing
- The financial plan: a detailed analysis of start up & running costs, plus income potential, profit & loss analysis and cash flow, minimum number of cows to meet your goals, sample pre-populated financial planning template in excel provided
- The business plan: what is a business plan & why is it important even if you are not needing to raise finance, how to prepare one
What others have said about this course:
"Financial information was really important: was very impressed with the transparency of the information provided - it was realistic and honest, which is refreshing and much appreciated."
"I feel empowered, a micro-dairy is totally possible to achieve."
"Excellent in all ways: content - great, delivery - great. Really good run-through of the legal requirements, which was always a fog before for me."
"You made me feel this is a lot more doable than I thought before."
"Fantastic handouts, great lunches!"
"Very interesting and enjoyable weekend. Christine very knowledgable."
"Very good handout and financials."
Course date: Saturday & Sunday, 11 & 12 May 2019, 10am-5pm both days.
Cost: £175 + vat (£210) per person, with a 10% discount on multiple bookings eg £315 + vat (£378) for two, including full handouts & electronic financial plan template, a proper home-prepared lunch, tea, cake & refreshments on both days.
Keeping a house cow
This two day course is aimed at those inspired by the idea of keeping a family cow to provide milk and dairy products for the household. As well as for those seriously considering keeping a cow, it would also make a wonderful gift for someone who would like to experience the pleasures of connecting with our friendly, affectionate cows and learning more about dairying on a small-scale.
We delve into the detail of keeping a dairy cow, how to choose the right cow to suit your goals and what to do with all that delicious milk! You will learn how to milk a cow, separate cream, make butter, cheese and kefir.
This is a fun, hands-on course to give you a good understanding of the benefits as well as the commitment, challenges and needs of keeping a healthy, happy house cow. No previous cow experience necessary!
- Your goals: expectations & key considerations before deciding to buy
- The pasture: grazing, pasture management, land, feed & winter forage requirements, Pasture for Life production, how what a cow eats affects her milk
- The cows: buying stock, cost of keeping your cow, getting your cow pregnant, calving, keeping calves with the cow, benefits of bull calves, cow health, common ailments & prevention, cow contentment & social needs
- The barn: handling equipment, over-wintering cows, feed & forage storage
- The milking parlour: dairying systems, the milking process - with or without calf, hand or machine, yield expectations, hygiene
- The creamery: milk quality, processing, we'll make kefir, butter & some simple soft cheese for you to take home
- The law: legal requirements & records for keeping cows
What others have said about this course:
"You are a wealth of information and kindly share your knowledge with a passion that is inspiring. I feel richer on so many levels after this course."
"It was such an inspirational weekend and I can’t thank you enough for showing me that in 2018 there is room for producing dairy and meat products in a compassionate and healthy way."
"Had a wonderful time on the course. Fallen in love with Jersey cows."
"What a great weekend with Christine learning all about having a house cow. Loved every moment."
Course date: Saturday & Sunday, 25 & 26 May 2019. Day 1: 10am-5pm, day 2: 9am-4pm.
Cost: £200 + vat (£240) per person, with a 10% discount on multiple bookings eg £360 + vat (£432) for two, including full handouts, a proper home-prepared lunch, tea, cake & refreshments on both days.
CONSULTANCY & BESPOKE TRAINING
Christine Page has over 20 years experience working with land and livestock, bovine, ovine & equine, as well as 10 years in the financial sector, and has a long history of helping others. She undertook Holistic Management training with HMI in 2014-2015, see her profile here.
Whether you are a beginner or established farmer, or smallholder, I offer consulting services here at Smiling Tree Farm, including a private farm tour, or I can offer expertise and support via email, phone, Facetime or Skype. I can provide advice to help you succeed in your goals whether you seek counsel for a particular challenge or are looking for more strategic guidance. Here are a few of the areas where I can offer you help:
- Guidance & support to overcome specific challenges: land, livestock, product or business related
- Discussion & feedback to help guide business ideas & new ventures
- Clarifying goals, values & strategic objectives, constructively challenging thoughts & expectations (SWOT)
- Resource considerations: personal skills & time, financial, land, livestock, facilities & equipment
- Land management: soil health & carbon sequestration, mob-grazing, organic systems, silvo-pasture
- Livestock management: beef or dairy; milking twice-a-day or once; cow-calf dairying or conventional; 100% grass-fed or supplemented; respective yield expectations
- Products: the 'soil to sale' story, nutritional value & flavour, packaging, labelling, marketing & route to market
- Who regulates your market & how to deal with authorities
- Putting together financial & business plans, incl budget start-up & running costs, income potential & gross profit anaysis
- Where do you go from here
All consultancy work is undertaken on a strictly confidential basis.
I can also give private farm tours and provide bespoke training tailored to your individual needs on any aspect of our sustainable farming methods and high-welfare, natural production of beef and dairy. Below are some of the topics I can cover:
- Fun days / half days of learning: milking cows, butter-making plus dairying, plus any of the below:
- Pasture diversity: soil, plant, animal & human health
- The link between soil health, flavour & nutrition
- Increasing vital nutrients in your produce
- What is 'sustainable' food production & how does what we do here differ from conventional food systems
- Animal welfare, housing & handling
- Keeping a house cow
- Starting & running a micro-dairy
- Cow-calf dairying
- Mob-grazing & creating a grazing plan
- How much land do you need to keep sheep / cows
- Cattle keeping & running a low input Pasture for Life beef suckler herd
- Herbal pastures, hedgerows & browsing trees
- How to sell your produce direct
- Creating a financial and/or business plan
Cost for a day: A day's consultancy or bespoke training at the farm (10am-5pm) is £270 (plus vat) for up to 4 people, and includes lunch, tea, cake & refreshments plus additional resources as needed (grazing plan, financial or business planning templates, etc). Please contact Christine if you would like to a group of more than 4 people.
Cost for half a day: (10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm) is £135 (plus vat).
By the hour: Educational private farm tours, training & consultancy is also available by the hour, and via phone or Skype. £50 (plus vat) per hour.
At your farm: I can provide any of the above services at your farm. Time is charged from arrival to departure plus 50p per mile travel expenses.
To book: Please email Christine including a brief description of how we can help. It is always helpful to know how you heard about us.
Cancellations: We will endeavour not to cancel events but if due to unforeseen circumstances we are forced to we will either refund your fee or offer an alternative date. Please give us 21 days notice if you wish to change or cancel your booking. If you cancel within 21 days and we are able to fill your place we will give you a full refund, if we cannot fill your place we will refund 50% of your fee. If you cancel within 48hrs of the start of the course, no refund will be given.
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