Where is Fellows Farm in Suffolk?

Farming is a proud part of life here in Suffolk, with some farms being family run for generations.

But there is a new generation of farmers who are leading an ecological revolution, changing the way they use their land and grow our food.

Among them is Ben Mackinnon.


Ben Mackinnon, owner of Fellows Farm, harvesting cucumbers
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ben’s certified organic 70-acre Fellows farm in Gosbeck is dedicated to making and growing healthy food for us and the planet — and he’s keen to share that process with as many people as possible.

Originally from Eye and brought up in the Waveney Valley, Ben has always had an affinity for the great British countryside.

“I grew up surrounded by fields in Fressingfield, and although my parents weren’t farmers, they had a smallholding when I was very young,” he explains.


Ben Mackinnon creates sourdough from his fresh produce

Ben Mackinnon creates sourdough from his fresh produce
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“They had a cow and milked it, and my father kept a large flock of turkeys for the Christmas market. My mother was also a vegetable lover.

As a teenager, Ben worked on a nearby organic farm before leaving to study in Scotland.

“I’ve always been very interested in the natural world and conservation from a young age, so when I finished high school I studied fisheries and conservation biology.”


Scholarship Farm

Scholarship Farm
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

After completing his studies, Ben went to work in fishing before continuing his studies in sustainability and renewable energy. “I ended up working as a sustainability consultant for a large multinational in London. I did that for a few years, but I didn’t like an office role – I’m a fairly active person, so it wasn’t for me. And I didn’t feel like what I was working on made a difference to our long-term survival — I wanted to do something with my hands,” he says.

Ben took time for himself and discovered one of his greatest passions: baking.


Ben Mackinnon creates sourdough from his fresh produce

Ben Mackinnon creates sourdough from his fresh produce
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“I took an artisan bread course and realized baking was for me,” he says.

Soon after, he found himself setting up e5 Bakehouse in East London – which has since grown into an empire in its own right. “The business has grown from just me to now a few bakeries and cafes with 100 employees,” he says.

“After doing this for almost 10 years, I realized that Suffolk had never really left my heart. I always came back here, and my parents live here. So when I started my family, we moved in a field that I had bought about six years before.

It was in this field that he grew oats, wheat and buckwheat which he used in the bakery in London.

“We moved here in 2019 when I found I could convert a small cabin on the land into something we could live in.”

And so, Fellows Farm was born.


Fellows Farm fresh produce

Fellows Farm fresh produce
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“The reason we wanted to be here was to try and grow fruit and vegetables, initially for the London cafe, but also to build relationships with local farmers who grew the heritage grains we grind at the bakery. ”

With a focus on regenerative agriculture, Ben wants to change the way food is purchased, ensuring it is as environmentally friendly as possible for current and future generations.

“It’s a really exciting time to look at how food is produced and to see how we can do it in a way that allows us to live in balance with nature. The more biodiversity we have, the more resilient our ecosystems will be – and I wanted to explore firsthand how we could actually achieve this,” he says.

Ben wants to reduce the carbon footprint of farming by using less energy, as well as fewer pesticides and herbicides. “I just don’t believe they are needed to produce food. I also want to reduce nitrogen fertilizers that flow into rivers, so we are working to reduce our reliance on those types of fertilizers,” he says.


Fellows Farm fresh produce

Fellows Farm fresh produce
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“We also want to improve soil health, which is the fundamental basis of a sustainable and regenerative agricultural system.”

To help him achieve this goal, he used a no-dig market garden on his farm, with the help of chef-turned-regenerative farmer Lughan Carr.

Using locally sourced compost from nearby stables, the farm grows a variety of fruits and vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes, six varieties of zucchini, cucumbers, turnips, herbs, peas and beans.


Fresh tomatoes from Fellows Farm

Fresh tomatoes from Fellows Farm
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“We have an acre of market garden here at Fellows Farm, which is 100 long beds that we maintain by hand, several polytunnels, and we are currently establishing a two acre vineyard. We then bring what we grow to cafes in London, but we want to develop a more local clientele,” he says.

“We recycle all our cuttings from the garden and bring all the coffee waste from our cafes back to London and also use those from the compost.”

In order to regenerate the soil, the farm also grows old varieties of wheat.

“They existed before intensive agriculture, so they are really suitable for agricultural systems that do not depend on fertilizers or pesticides, because they evolved in a time when we did not have them. What we’ve found as bakers is that they’re really delicious too – they’re incredibly flavorful and work well in breads, pizzas and cakes.

Elsewhere on the site, there are sheep pastures, ponds and an area dedicated to agroforestry.


Scholarship Farm

Scholarship Farm
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“We have rows of trees with 25m gaps, which allows combines to pass between them, but the idea is that in addition to producing fruit, we provide habitats for animals and insects, to help improve soil biology. This allows natural predators, such as beetles, to eat the slugs rather than using pesticides.

“What we do is not necessarily the answer – but we all need to explore ways to cultivate in a way that our children and grandchildren can continue – and this is an exploration of that. We have lived here for three years now, but the generosity and warmth of the local farmers has been incredible, and they have been so kind with their knowledge and support.

Additionally, Fellows Farm is home to a campsite, weaving mill, vineyard, micro-bakery and mill. There are also 15 acres of permanent wildflower meadow.


Scholarship Farm

Scholarship Farm
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Think of it as a place where people can go and experience the beauty of the Suffolk countryside firsthand.

“I guess I like bringing the field to life and creating a mix of elements that make up the farm. One of my dreams in life was to create more opportunities here in the countryside. Deep down I love farming, but baking is my number one passion. When I moved here I bought a wood oven with me and for the two years we did weekly baking we made sourdough breads. And local chef Nicola Hordern, who set up Darsham Nurseries, she’s a great chef and often came over on Saturdays to make pastries and pies.


Yurts and bell tents at Fellows Farm

Yurts and bell tents at Fellows Farm
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Recently, Ben hosted over 50 guests for a farm-to-fork dining experience – something he would like to do more of in the future.

“We brought in a chef who cooked local game, and everything came from the market garden. They all pitched tents and stayed put. It really created an earthy, warm and informal environment in which to gather.

“We would like to do more, and maybe add some locally made wine and bread as well.”

Coming in August, Fellows Farm will host a pizza and music event starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, August 12.

Find out more at fellowsfarm.co.uk

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