Planting willow in Keswick

“Some of our land has deteriorated over the years due to all the rain in the area. I hope that planting willow will be a way to break that trend,” says Steven Clarke, a farmer who lives in Braithwaite, Keswick in the UK’s biggest national park, the Lake District. His farm is located in a beautiful natural setting and consists of 300 acres, of which almost 150 are rented.

At the farm Steven breeds both cattle and sheep and has also built up a milk distribution business. It has been natural for him to think about energy issues and how to become financially stable, despite the market fluctuations. As a result he has invested in a biomass boiler to supply his farm and office with home-produced energy.

This May Steven planted about 28 acres with willow as an initial new step. “This is yet another stage in our diversification. As a farmer today you have to dare to try new things, even though this was not a crop grown by our forefathers,” Steven explains.

He chose to sign a long-term contract with Iggesund to supply biomass to the company’s mill at Workington. The agreement gives him financial support to establish the willow crop and also a price for his biomass which is index linked throughout the entire contract period.
“Now I know this land will give me a steady income for the next twenty two years,” he says. “One of several decisive factors was that Iggesund assumes responsibility for both harvesting and transporting the crop to their mill. All I need to do is to make sure it grows well.”

At the farm Steven Clarke breeds both cattle and sheep and has also built up a milk distribution business. This May 28 acres on Steven Clarke’s farm were planted with willow.