The Escapist: Luke Hasell of Story Group Ltd
Luke Hasell, festival organiser & founder of the Story Group Ltd, on organic farming
Having grown up on a farm, I was exposed to agriculture from an early age. At 26 I was living and working in London as a civil engineer and I was all set to take a job in Sydney when my dad passed away. In light of this, I moved back to Somerset to take over the family farm.
The processes in place didn't make much sense to me; I saw no reason to be feeding hormones to livestock and pumping crops and veg beds with pesticides – it just struck me as a profoundly unhealthy way to farm.
Taking over the farm was difficult, but I was focused on what I wanted to achieve and now I'm proud to say that all of my livestock is 100% pasture-fed, and that you won't find a trace of chemicals on any of our 550 acres.
I started the Story Group back in 2004 with my neighbour Jim Twine, and together we rear cattle ethically and organically. We use traditional breeds, like slow-growing north and south Devon cows, and they're fed on only natural-grass diets. We deliver meat direct to the doors of local customers, while also supplying to wholesale and retail and our beef is traditionally hung to ensure tender meat and a delicious flavour.
We do this because it's our passion – I want to see my family live long, happy lives, and I genuinely believe that farming in this way can help achieve this. I work the same fields that my grandfather did, and it's still a great feeling to carry on that family tradition.
Plenty of other stuff happens on the farm, too – this year was the second edition of Valley Fest; a music and food festival we launched to engage people and get them onto the very land their food is produced on.