• Office Administrator - up to £25,000  - full-time position - Heltondale, near Askham, Cumbria.

    • Do you love organizing things and can’t help making sure everything is “all sorted”?
    • Do you like the idea of always having something new to keep you busy?
    • Do you enjoy being in close contact with the environment and outdoor working life?
    • Are you calm and friendly?
    • We are looking for an office administrator to work at the core of our business to make sure everything runs smoothly. We operate from our farm a first-class and expanding agricultural/environmental contracting business, as well as producing award-winning compost.

    The role will involve a lot of coordinating people and equipment to make sure everybody has what they need when they need it on site. It also serves as the first point of contact for staff, customers and clients.

    How To Apply

    To apply for the role, please send your CV and covering letter to Kate@peopledecisions.co.uk.

    In the covering letter, please explain your motivation for applying for the role. Applications without a covering letter will not be accepted. If you want to talk to somebody further about the role, please contact Julia Cater, Julia@peopledecisions.co.uk, 01768 753001.

    Recruitment timetable

    Deadline for applications: Monday 20 November 2017

  • As well as making peat free compost, our team are experts in restoring peat bogs.  Here is an article written by Jenny Sharman, Yorkshire Peat Partnership about our work at Ramsgill, featuring an interview with our site foreman and digger driver Barry:

    Last year the Yorkshire Peat Partnership restored 2,635ha of peatland across the Yorkshire Dales. Looking back at this achievement, and with the next season of restoration work nearly upon us, it is a good time to reflect on the individuals who actually carried out this physical restructuring of the gullied and boggy hillsides.

    Often in the most extreme conditions, on tasks that require a particularly unique skill set, the digger driver is among those most worthy of recognition.

    It takes a particular strength of character to deal with the isolation of working in an enclosed cabin for eight hours a day, battered by the winds, rain, snow and occasional blinding sunlight that all characterise winter on the moor. Beyond these climatic challenges, peatland restoration demands a very niche set of skills from its creators. The drivers operate their ungainly, heavy machines with a surprising amount of precision and delicacy, not only negotiating over treacherous bog, but also manoeuvring in such a way that will leave no lasting impact on the fragile landscape over which they patrol.

    Barry Smithson, a digger driver for 15 years and a site foreman for four, smiles as he recollects his early experiences, “When I was first hired I was told that I needed to forget everything I’d ever learned in the past and start again! It’s all new up here, you’ve got to read the ground – it’s so fragile and you need to drive the machines completely differently to keep them balanced and afloat.”

    Smithson’s speciality is re-profiling and re-turving of eroding gully sides and ‘hags’. It involves the careful reshaping of the degrading peatland slopes and meticulous placement of heather turf taken from the gully top to provide a protective layer over the newly shaped features. “The hardest part of the job is making as little mess as possible when moving machines about. Again you need to read the ground, don’t do any sharp turns and take care not to scrape any turf off.”

    The first time I ever saw this process I was in awe. I couldn’t believe how delicate a weighty 10 tonne digger could be - and it was nothing short of a miracle to see the bare, black eroded gullies transformed, from one day to the next, into apparently healthy, vegetated slopes abutting their valleys of meandering streams.
    A self-confessed perfectionist, Smithson takes particular joy out of these creations. “I get a good feeling from a job well done - there’s nothing worse than looking at a landscape that is black with bare peat. It’s very satisfying to be able to change that.”

    Smithson’s most recent job with the Yorkshire Peat Partnership was on Ramsgill in the Nidderdale AONB. This site had particular challenges, mostly as a result of the devastating burning that occurred there after several aeroplane crashes during WW2.

    “The major issues were that it was so wet and the turves so thin. They’re really poor quality due to the fire that went through. There’s also a severe lack of Sphagnum. We overcame the wet by staying on bog mats to keep afloat. The Sphagnum we had to collect miles away from donor sites. As for the turves, we had to be especially careful to ensure they didn’t disintegrate. It was a challenge, but rewarding to see the difference after the work.”
    It’s thanks to people like Barry Smithson that our peatlands now have a chance to regenerate and once again return to be the valuable carbon sinks and healthy habitats they once were. It is an extraordinary legacy. For him, this demanding, specialist work has its own rewards: “It’s great work! You’re out of the way, on your own, in the fresh open air every day - and one of the greatest feelings is to be able to look across the moor and see no blackened areas of peat! It also makes me very proud to think I may be reducing the effects of climate change.” Looking over the vast landscape that he and his colleagues have helped to transform, Smithson smiles at a job well done.

  • Jane Bingham receiving our compost for the Remember Me Garden at Tatton Flower Show 2017

    A RHS Tatton Park show garden highlighting the impact of dementia on both patients and their families, is getting a peat free helping hand from Dalefoot Composts.

    Designed by Jane Bingham and Penny Hearne of The Cheshire Garden, the ‘Remember Me’ Garden for Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity, will be one of the feature exhibits at the show which runs from 19-23 July. Plants and containers in the charity garden will be planted using peat free Wool Compost and Lakeland Gold, donated by Dalefoot.

    The garden will aim to create a ‘home from home’ outdoor space where people with dementia or a cognitive impairment can enjoy the freedom to be themselves. It will educate and inform visitors of the journey that someone with dementia takes, from first diagnosis through to potentially, 24-hour care.

    Jane Bingham met Dalefoot Composts at the Landscape Show last year. “I’m grateful for the donation as the compost will help the plants establish themselves on the garden. We’ve received fantastic support from so many companies,” she said.

    Show visitors will experience a memory shed called the ‘Room of Inklings’, created by RAW-i Studios, containing items in glass containers, such as sea shells, old seed packets, marbles and garden tools, designed to spark memories by representing the past and happy times during childhood. The planting will mirror the deterioration of the mind – at one side large colourful drifts with nods to the 1960s and 70s, with planting gradually becoming more faded and muddled, ending in a completely mixed up wildflower meadow.

    The charity garden at RHS Tatton Park will support MCH Charity's new 'Everybody knows Somebody' Dementia Appeal which aims to raise £1.5 million to provide environmental enhancements to the wards and departments at Leighton Hospital caring for people with dementia or other cognitive impairment.

  • After the driest winter in over 20 years, and our summer now hotting up, could we be heading for a water shortage? If you’re looking to bag clever ideas to drought-proof your garden, check out these five eco tips from peat free compost maker Dalefoot Composts.

    1. Invest in a water butt now. Even better buy two! Securely attach them to your home’s downpipes to harvest precious, and free, rainwater from your roof. Why not erect some basic guttering around your garden shed or greenhouse to capture the rain from those too?

    2. Try out bottle gardening! Cut the bottom off a large plastic bottle and bury it upside down, without its top, into the soil next to your prized plants. Fill the bottle with water and let the hydration reach the plants’ roots first.

    3. Take a leaf out of early 20th century gardening books and use the natural ‘hygroscopic’ properties of wool to trap water. Dalefoot’s Wool Compost contains sheep’s wool and so does exactly that, keeping moist for longer and helping gardeners save water. The compost also contains bracken, and combined with wool, the all-natural ingredients release a steady stream of nitrogen and other must-have nutrients to feed the plants over the growing season, so no further feed is required. Genius!

    4. Mulch, mulch, mulch – use either a peat free top dressing, like Dalefoot’s Lakeland Gold (which also busts troublesome clay soil), or place a layer of gravel or stones onto the surface of soil in pots and containers. This will stop water from evaporating. The deeper the mulch, the more effective it will be.

    5. Waste not, want not - If it’s really dry, place a large saucer underneath garden pots when you water them, so there’s no wasted H2O. It’s also wise to place containers together in a shaded spot in the garden.

    Environmental scientist Dr Jane Barker, who runs Dalefoot Composts, said: “The key to keeping plants blooming if the weather is dry, is to water once but well. By following these basic tips, you’d be amazed the difference it will make to parched plants.

    “One of the reasons we use wool in our composts is the fantastic water-retention qualities it has. An added bonus is the wool is packed with nutrients like nitrogen which is perfect for feeding plants,” she added.

  • Veg Compost

    - Dalefoot Composts - Stand CHW258 RHS Chatsworth –

    Wool from the rare Whitefaced Woodland sheep breed, native of the Peak District and Pennine Hills, is the secret ingredient in an innovative peat free compost range being exhibited at RHS Chatsworth this week. The Whitefaced Woodland ram even stars on the front of each bag of Dalefoot compost.

    Dalefoot Composts mixes Woodland wool with that of another upland hill breed, the Lake District Herdwick, into its compost. The wool is then combined with bracken to form the peat free compost recipe, giving an ideal, nutrient-fuelled mix for growing vegetables, fruit, plants and shrubs.

    For gardeners, benefits of wool in the compost include:
    • Natural water retention of wool fibres means up to 50% less watering.
    • Wool provides a steady, slow sustained supply of nitrogen for plants.
    • When mixed with bracken, which has high levels of natural potash so promotes flowering and fruiting, results in healthy growth and hearty crops - NO need for any additional plant food.
    • Made from 100% renewable resources with great environmental benefits.
    • The compost has a similar soft texture to peat and has a wide range of naturally occurring trace elements for good plant health.

    Simon Bland of Dalefoot Composts said: “The provenance of the wool we use in our compost is top notch from two iconic, hill breeds of sheep. Both of them also play an important role in maintaining the landscapes of two of Britain’s iconic national parks. Wool has the most fantastic qualities when used in compost – water retention and nutrients. You can’t beat it.”

    With composts for container growing, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, seeds and ericaceous plants, the Wool Compost range has a solution for every gardening need. The range is available online at www.dalefootcomposts.co.uk from £10.99 per bag down to £7.50 each for orders of 50 bags plus delivery, and also from a growing list of stockists.

    Wool Compost is made on a 120-acre family farm at Dalefoot in the Lake District fells by farmer Simon Bland and environmental scientist Jane Barker, using Whitefaced Woodlands’ wool from their own flock and the Herdwick ‘wool-clip’ of neighbouring hill farmers. As well as helping the growing number of gardeners who want to switch to peat free, the compost finds a novel use for British wool - good news for struggling sheep farmers.

    The use of bracken in Wool Compost is also beneficial. The spread of this aggressive, waist-high plant makes grazing difficult and impacts upon native species. Composted it boasts high levels of natural potash, essential for fruiting and flowering. A win for nature lovers and gardeners alike.


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© Barker and Bland Ltd t/a Dalefoot Composts 2014 - 2018. All rights reserved.
Barker and Bland is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Dalefoot Farm, Heltondale, Nr Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2QL. Registered number: 8312959

This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

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