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Lakeland Farm Visitor Centre

From award-winning livestock to creating a visitor centre

Ever tried drystone walling or wool spinning? Lakeland has diversified from livestock to a more retail focused business.

As trends for reconnecting with the land, supporting local businesses and eating more sustainably continue to grow, traditional organisations that have long-followed these philosophies have an opportunity to capitalise on this renewed interest.

Traditional farming in a modern world

That’s certainly been the case for Isaac and Kerrie, who recently invested in a visitor centre on their farm in Windermere, in the Lake District. “We wanted to address some of the challenges we face with farming,” explains Isaac. “We were a bit too reliant on public subsidies to cover the shortfall when the livestock isn’t profitable, so creating the visitor centre is a way of being more sustainable.” The centre acts as a hub for a range of activities, from a farm shop to a meat subscription service and a demonstration arena. They also run a range of workshops, including cookery classes, drystone walling and wool spinning. The ethos is very much about making people more aware of traditional methods and products, something that Isaac and Kerrie are passionate about.

“We are very proud of our livestock, and the demand we have for them,” Isaac says. “Part of the reason for that interest is that we’ve kept things traditional in how we raise and care for them, so we want to keep that going in the centre too.” Moving from purely raising livestock to combining it with a visitors centre has meant acquiring new skills. “We have more staff at the visitors centre, and there are more members of the public on the farm now, so we’re learning the best way to deal with issues, keep people happy and make changes with our employees when needed. Moving from purely wholesale to a more retail environment means looking at ways to attract customers, so we’re learning more about marketing the centre as well.” Investing in the centre may seem like a big step, but something they needed to do to build a successful future that’s well-integrated into the community.

“We studied the market, our location and surrounding area, and saw an opportunity for something a bit different. It’s been a big investment, but one that’s starting to pay off. Social media has also really helped in bringing people in.”

If you're looking to diversify your farming business, contact one of our Agricultural Area Managers today to see how we can help.

Five ways to diversify your farm

1. Know your market

2. Build on your strengths

3. Invest in new skills

4. Collaborate with others

5. Be prepared to change as needed