Vine House Farm bird foods started off with a clear vision and the main principles of that vision still hold true today. In essence, it is about farming in a way that encourages wildlife and the wide range of habitats it needs; growing seed specifically for bird food; processing and packing this seed in our own farm premises along with other seeds and products we can't grow; then supplying the high quality products direct to our customers at low prices and with a relatively low carbon footprint. What's more and since we started, we now directly support The Wildlife Trusts and give 5% of our takings to them. Our work and the way we operate has also been rewarded with a number of prestigious awards including the 2009 'Countryside Farmer of the year' awarded to Nicholas Watts by Farmers Weekly.
So how did it all start? It was back in 1982 that Nicholas wanted to know what birds were breeding on his farm, and so he walked his land and recorded all the birds he saw and heard - something he has done every year since. By 1992 he realised there had been a big drop in numbers so he started to implement ideas to stop their decline. One of his actions was to feed birds on a large scale in his farm yards. The results were spectacular so he had an open day for people to come and see the birds that were feeding. Two or three people asked him if he could sell them some bird seed, so he duly obliged. The same happened the next year and he gave all the proceeds of the day to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. More people asked him to sell bird food and so, largely by accident, the bird food business started. Momentum has grown over the years and Vine House Farm now grows over 400 acres of bird food including black sunflowers, red millet, white millet, canary seed, naked oats, wheat and oil seed rape.
For many years Nicholas has been carrying our research into farmland birds, he continues to do bird surveys and through those surveys he is able to assess what is needed to enhance his farm, the activities of the local drainage board and other farms in the area. He is always willing to give advice to people interested in birds and through his work on farmland birds and conservation was awarded an MBE in 2006.
Nicholas has been joined on the family farm now by, Robert, his son in law, and Lucy one of his three daughters to help manage the growing bird food business and farm.
Vine House Farm is a traditional arable farm passed down from one generation to the next, and situated in the Lincolnshire Fenlands. A wide variety of crops is grown including potatoes and sugar beet, with some of the land also farmed organically. Whether organic of not though, all the land is farmed in a way that is sympathetic to the wildlife that shares our environment with us.
What better foundation do you want for a business that sells bird food?!