A young South Cumbria couple who kick-started their farming career by crowdfunding while living in a yurt has gone on to produce a premium beef product that sells out in just 36 hours.

Now, David and Bekka Corrie-Close, who started their farming dream five years ago, have also come one step closer to securing their first farm.

As the new tenants of the National Trust’s Land End Farm near Kendal, the young couple moved into the centuries-old farm on August 10 – a move that would allow them to expand their Horned Beef Company.

Over the next two years, the Corrie-Closes will work with the National Trust on plans for the future of the farm which needs significant investment, including the farmhouse.

‘A landmark moment’

It’s a landmark moment for the couple who are in their 30s. Starting with nothing, and living in a yurt with no facilities, they began by attracting £30,000 of crowdfunding to buy cows.

Within a five-year period, the couple has seen their herd size expand to a 100-head herd of native breed cattle.

By increasing herd numbers, leasing less productive fields and becoming livestock keepers and land managers, the innovative couple has managed to produce a premium product that – when available – sells out within 36 hours.

‘A dream come true’

David, now a full-time farmer, gave up his job to concentrate on the farm whilst Bekka, an ecologist, works part-time to help provide an income.

We have had to be innovative to make our dream come true and farm in the way we want to. It’s incredibly hard and rewarding work which seems to be winning us a lot of public support.

We began by attracting finance using a crowd-funding model; our investors literally get a tasty return each year in the form of some great meat,” said David.

While the Corrie-Closes do not run a “typical” farming business, like most farmers they are doing what is right for their farm and the land that they have available.

Commenting on the role that the National Trust has had in expanding The Horned Beef Company, Corrie-Closes said:

“We have grown quickly and we are at the stage where we need a farming base to take the company to the next level.

In the National Trust we have a landlord who is on the same page as us; sympathetic to the environment and conservation and who understands a business that is operating to achieve those things.

“The next two years at Lane End Farm will test us further and bring us one step closer to having a sustainable farming business,” said David.

Gemma Wren from the National Trust who will be working with the Corrie-Closes at Lane End Farm said:

“We know how hard farming is. It requires a complex set of skills from business acumen to animal husbandry. We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with David and Bekka.

We are playing our part by managing our own land for the benefit of nature.

“It’s an unprecedented time for agriculture in terms of what future subsidies will look like and how we balance the needs of the land with what we all want from it,” she added.

The National Trust

Neighbours of the Corrie-Closes include two other farms on the National Trust’s Sizergh Estate which the public can access and walk to from Sizergh Castle.

The National Trust owns 90 farms in the Lake District. During the next five to 10 years, the trust believes other farms may become available to let.

The Trust are keen to hear from people with farming experience who share the trust’s farming ethos.

Anyone who is interested in finding out more is encouraged to contact Will Cleasby, Farming Advisor for the National Trust in the Lake District.