Having a background in property and design, I took on my estate management role in 2014, working on a mixed use estate (pigs, dairy and arable) in South Yorkshire. Our Jersey cows supply milk to Longley Farm and our pigs consume the waste from Longley’s dairy, thereby sustainably converting food waste into natural fertiliser for our land and pork produce.
Whilst I was originally employed to assist with the land and property side of the estate, my role has grown and I have become much more involved with the wider farm strategy, which has been a fascinating period of learning and hopefully bringing useful ideas from an outside perspective.
As a farm, we have an opportunity to diversify through public engagement, being in an urban fringe location and with stunning assets on our land to use in this endeavour, from listed buildings and walled gardens to restore, woodland to manage and improve, and a desire to increase our overall sustainability.
I’m passionate about reconnecting consumers with the countryside around them, to show how hedges are laid, what other species live on our farm, what we grow, how it’s a cyclical operation, and where our food comes from in general.
Away from work, I enjoy sketching and design, walking in the Yorkshire Dales and Scotland, travelling to new places abroad and time with my black Labrador, Jess.
I’m very grateful to the John Oldacre Foundation for their sponsorship of this project, to Jim Dickinson of Longley Farm for his encouragement as my employer, to my family and partner for their continuous help and support.
“We shape our buildings, and thereafter they shape us” – a study into how farm building aesthetics affects the user experience.
John Oldacre Foundation
As farming has evolved, so have the buildings in which house our livestock. Modern livestock housing is a very practical space, mostly designed by farmers and contractors according to a proven design formula, which has understandably evolved to suit primary goals of efficiency and productivity, in a market where profitability is increasingly challenging.
In many other sectors of construction, architects and other specialists are investigating how users of buildings are affected by the spaces in which they work and spend time. This discipline is known as environmental psychology and it is clear that people are profoundly affected (both mentally and physically) by the buildings in which we spend time, hence the increasing interest in designing spaces that have a positive impact on users.
However, most of this research and expertise is being applied in the design of housing, offices, industrial workplaces, healthcare and education establishments, with very little involvement or thought about the design of farm livestock buildings.
My study seeks to investigate knowledge and principles of environmental psychology, to understand what design elements are needed for a building to be a healthy and positive space for all users (farmers, animals, visitors) and then to apply this knowledge when considering the design of modern livestock buildings. How essential is natural light? Is there a difference psychologically between spending time in buildings constructed from steel and concrete compared with timber or other natural materials? How might the feel of a space affect not only human well-being, but the human-animal relationship dynamic? Do positive design elements conflict with aims of practicality and productivity?
I aim to travel throughout Europe and the USA, meeting pioneering architects, psychologists and neuroscientists, seeing some optimal examples of architecture and modern livestock housing.