March 28th, 2024 Rooting for Real Farms

Rooting for Real Farms: Genevieve Taylor & Fred Price (Gothelney Farm)

Fred Price

Gothelney Farm is a 150-hectare family farm looked after by Fred Price and his large, and growing, extended family which consists of his sister and brother-in-law Milly and Dan who run the butchery, his parents Richard and Victoria, and recently Rosy who set up the Field Bakery, making traditional sourdough bread from heritage grains grown on the farm.

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Fred embarked on the journey from commercial to agro-ecological farming twelve years ago when it became impossible for him to ignore the fact that to produce commodity crops and intensively reared livestock he was becoming more and more dependent on chemical inputs just to maintain the same yield. As the soil degraded it required more and more fertilisers to replace the natural plant nutrients that were being taken out by relentless ploughing and cereal cropping, and as the weeds became immune to weed-killers, they required more and more spraying just to keep abreast with the vigorous newly resistant strains.

“Agribusiness, industrial agriculture, ‘conventional’ agriculture – all view the farm as a business like any other based on competition, efficiency and maximising profit via an extractive cumbersome & commodified food system.”

The farm now follows agro-ecological practices such as cover cropping, no-till crop sowing, mob grazing and agro-forestry to improve soil health and attract bees and other pollinators.

“Earning the right to farm without inputs means considering the soil as a vibrant, living ecosystem. Our rotation reflects a need to prime the soil with enough carbon (foodstuff of bacteria, protozoa and microbes at the base of the soil food web) and care for beneficial insects and microbes that build a resilient low-input farming system.”

The pig herd consists of 24 rare breed Tamworth and Large Black sows crossed with Saddleback or Duroc, producing 350 slow-grown pigs per year, finished at a minimum of 10 months old, with most of the pork sold in the farm shop or at local farmers’ markets or through the online shop.

Although they are fed some organic soya from the EU in the winter, most of their feed is from cereals grown on the farm or in the summer months from foraging the herbal leys rich in clover and nutritious herbs such as plantain, chicory and the natural de-wormer Sainfoin, a nitrogen-fixing legume which is protein-rich and is having a revival on grazing farms as pasture-fed meat becomes more sought after.

“Our pigs eat a largely home grown diet made up of oats, peas and barley (known as intercrop) with up to 75% nutritious forage. We grow 150 tonnes of intercrop each year for the pigs. For the weaner pigs, generally between 4 and 12 weeks old. Ultimately our aim is to produce a 100% forage fed animals all year round.

Rosy’s skills as a baker come from working for many years in bakeries, mills and farms, in the UK and North America, which only use fresh milled regional grains. Field Bakery was started originally as a workshop space in 2020 to share her knowledge of sourdough baking and help connect more people with what happens on the farm. The bakery now produces sourdough loaves made with heritage grains grown on the farm and hosts ‘field to loaf’ workshops to teach people some of the methods of traditional bread making, and how to establish a wild yeast starter.

“Welcoming Rosy to the farm has been perhaps our greatest leap towards embedding our farm within our local community. Together we are one step closer to a small farm future, where farms feed people justly.”

Last summer Gothelney celebrated the various farm enterprises, pork, beef and bread, with an event featuring burgers made fresh from the onsite stone mill and bakery, with beef and pork from the farm. The Zero Mile Burger came about because of Fred’s vision twelve years ago that the farm would flourish as a circular system, supporting human scale businesses and creating localised supply chains direct to the local community.


Gen Taylor is a fire chef, cookery teacher and the author of twelve cookery books that range across an impressive diversity of food types from Stew! (2011), Soup! (2012), Pie! (2014) and Marshmallow Magic (2012). Then came a series of books about cooking with fire, the type of cooking she loves best, Charred (2019) a guide barbequing vegetables, Seared (2022) a guide to cooking meat on a fire and Scorched, to be published in March 2024, which unravels some of the mysteries of cooking the numerous different species of fish and shellfish on an open fire or a barbeque.

She lives in Bristol with her husband and two children, along with her chickens (‘the girls’), two dogs and an elderly cat, and is an occasional ceramicist with a studio at the top of her garden. Trained as a biologist, she pays close attention to animals and plants, keeps an allotment and listens to music while walking in the woods with her dogs.

In 2020 Gen launched the Bristol Fire School to help people ‘do fire better’. She teaches classes in her garden on fire management, setting up your barbecue or open wood fire, sourcing fuel and lighting the fire. Once the fire is lit she explains some of the other multiple skills for producing perfectly cooked meat, fish and veg, including slow-roasting, smoking and cooking with the embers of an open wood fire.

“Everyone is welcome at Bristol Fire School, this is a machismo-free space in which to learn and enjoy fire, and most importantly, cook something great to share. Fire cooking may be a male dominated craft but women light brilliant fires. Fire is the original cooking tool, going back many thousands of years, and women were the ones who did the cooking. This comes naturally to us. Trust me.

Its also worth pointing out that Fire School is not just about learning to cook great big hunks of meat, nice as they are – this will be a well rounded omnivorous experience. I’m well known for my love of vegetables but there will be meat too, good meat, cooked well.”

Among her numerous books, the one that perhaps most reflects Gen’s inspired creative energy is The Ultimate Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook which tells you everything you need to know about your outdoor oven, including step by step instructions on how to build a wood oven in your garden, which woods to use for the best flavours to match what you are cooking, and many wood oven recipes, some drawn from the past when a village wood oven would be fired once a week to bake bread, then the cooling embers used to bake potatoes and slow-roast meat dishes.

The book explains how, while the oven is hot, you can roast and grill for example Portuguese clams with white wine, garlic and coriander, or kebabs and pizzas, then as it begins to cool down you can cook dishes like beetroot focaccia with goats cheese and sage, and finally use the dying embers to slow-roast dishes like lamb shoulder with fennel, or leave dishes such as beef brisket or breakfast porridge to cook slowly overnight.

“I am a food writer with a passion for fire. I really wanted to write a book on wood fired oven cooking but first I had to build an oven. Here is how we did it… a combination of time lapse, slo mo, stills & iPhone footage, pretty rough around the edges but shows the steps we took. It was a tremendous amount of hard work, I learnt skills I never thought I would – like bricklaying and rendering but so worth it. A properly insulated wood oven is a joy to cook in. I can light one fire in my oven and know that I can cook stuff in it for 24 hours, using the falling curve of the heat to cook pizza, bake bread and cakes, roast meat, vegetables and fish and cook slowly overnight.”

Gen thinks of the development of her fire-cooking skills and expertise as a transformation of the kitchen from the indoors to the outdoors, based on the over-riding belief that everything tastes better cooked outside, whether flavoured by charcoal made from olive and fruit trees, or from being cooked outside on an open fire with the unmistakable aroma and unique flavour of woodsmoke and fresh air.

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