Direct from the farm
Being honest and not burying anything ‘in the small print’ is very much how we think and operate here at Vine House Farm. So when we talk about ‘Direct from our farm’ this is what we mean…
All our bird foods and other products DO come direct from our farm. We process, clean, mix and pack virtually all the seeds and seed mixes we sell, and the few we don’t pack (which are some of the smaller packs of seed) we ensure the process stays as local to us as possible. All our suet products are UK manufactured and delivered direct to us.
Bird Seed we can and can’t grow on our farm
What we can actually grow on our farm we do, and this includes black sunflower (although see note further down page), red millet, white millet, canary seed, oil seed rape and naked oats. Other bird seed such as kibbled maize is UK grown, which is our next priority to keep carbon miles to a minimum. We have to import the seeds and other produce which can’t be grown in the UK such as sunflower hearts, niger seed, sultanas and peanuts. For these products, our aim is to ensure the carbon miles are kept to a minimum. It has to be accepted however, that there are limits to the control we have over where and how they’re grown – in particular bird peanuts. That said, we only ever buy-in high quality produce.
Black Sunflower seeds
We’re famed for our glorious fields of sunflowers which come into bloom in late summer, and most years we’re able to produce an impressive crop of black sunflower seed from the tens of thousands of huge flower heads. However, Lincolnshire is close to the northerly limit that sunflowers can be grown on a commercial scale in the UK – and we’re not aware of any farm further north than us which grows them – and therefore the harvest can be inconsistent and very much dependent on the weather. So, some years we get a bumper crop, some years just an acceptable one, but in 2012 the crop entirely failed due to the very wet summer – though that was the first time ever we weren’t able to harvest any seed.
The other factor which has put pressure on our black sunflower crop is the demand for it. So, as our products have become more and more popular over recent years, we haven’t always been able to grow a sufficient amount of our own black sunflower to meet that demand. There is a physical limit to the volume of black sunflower we can reasonably grow and harvest in any given year.
What this all means is that we do need to buy-in additional stocks of black sunflowers and these typically comes from Eastern Europe. When this situation occurs, we do everything possible to ensure that the quality of the seed we import is as good as the quality we grow ourselves.
Unrivalled control over bird seed quality
The way we operate also means we have unrivalled control over product quality – for example in the case of seed such as our own black sunflower, red millet and white millet – from the moment it’s sown in the ground to the moment it’s delivered to your door.
And what does this mean to our prices?
They’re typically lower than everyone else’s. Because so much of what we sell we grow ourselves, and what we don’t grow comes straight to us, and then direct you, our overheads are kept to a minimum and we’ve taken out most of the ‘middlemen’ other brands of bird food need in order to operate.