Emile established Hathor Farm at Sacred Earth in 2015. He joins the management committee as a key member of our land-based team with invaluable skills to contribute to the project.
My name is Emile and I run Hathor Farm. The animals at Sacred Earth are my responsibility. I was asked to write a blog to introduce myself to our new members and supporters and explains a bit about why I do what I do. I thought about it for a while and kept coming back to an old photo I found of me as a child with my grandfather which I think answers that question. This answer might feel a bit unsatisfactory to some people, so let me try putting it into words a bit more.
I suppose the seed was planted at an early age. My grandfather was an old-fashioned outdoor person, by which I mean it was simply what he was: He was brought up that way, lived it all his life, and died near the forest that he took care of, so it was in his bones. Because of that there was also never the need to waste any words on it, he simply showed me by being who he was. That’s where I learned a deep love and respect for nature, and also a great sense of responsibility for it.
After he died I drifted in another direction, discovering history, art, philosophy, but eventually ending up being a classical musician. After two political parties in the Netherlands decided to attack the arts, education, sensible dialogue, diversity, justice and the environment, I decided to try my luck somewhere else doing something different, and I became an apprentice at Tablehurst Farm in Forest Row. Luckily my wonderful partner Miriam wanted to try something different as well and came with me. She is now a teacher at the Michael Hall Steiner School and a great help when I need a second pair of hands on the farm.
At Tablehurst I quickly realised that I felt most at home working with and handling animals, of which pigs where my favourite. Not too long after my apprenticeship finished I heard about Sacred Earth and got in touch with Phil, who was keen on introducing animals to the land, and he gave me the opportunity to do just that – and so Hathor Farm was quickly born. Being half Egyptian I felt that could be represented in the name, and Hathor is a goddess of joy, motherhood and love represented by a cow, with the sun between her horns. Egypt was of course one of the birth places of agriculture.
Not surprisingly I decided to start my farm with pigs and we moved Julia and Collette onto the land in December 2015. Between them they’ve already had four very successful litters. Next we introduced chickens and soon we hope to expand to sheep, since the land could really do with some grazing again. My aim is to get the pastures back into shape, as much as I can with the help of my animals, so Sacred Earth will have a good balance between useful pasture and woods, with the beautiful lakes in the centre.
I have chosen to keep rare and old breeds, since I believe they are worth saving – they have been with us for ages, and we should not discard them simply because of our desire for ‘higher yields’. They are more balanced and better adapted to the British climate which means their quality of life is better, and the quality of what they produce is often not matched by the more conventional breeds.
Besides establishing my little farm, I also work on three other farms – milking at Plawhatch Farm in Sharpthorn, fencing at Tablehurst Farm in Forest Row and working at Oakwood organic orchard in Robertsbridge. The beauty of this is that my work is very diverse, I learn a lot being on three other working farms doing different things for them, and I get to work with a lot of different people who have all been very supportive. All in all I feel quite lucky and I still play music, in Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra, so if you ever want to hear that, feel free to come to one of our concerts.
Please feel free to contact Emile if you’re interested in finding our more about his farm or his music.