Ben Cadell farms and manages Bonnytoun along with his wife Lindsay and the kids. Deeply invested in organic principles and regenerative farming practices, Ben has been changing the quality of the farm over the last decade and more.
Ben has planted hedges and replaced fences, created wildlife corridors, planted green manure, attenuated flooding with ponds, converted 60 acres of the farm to organic veg production, included clover in grassland mixes to improve soil condition, sacrificed yield for nutrient-building in the soil and has grown seed for the birds as part of a crop rotation system.
A little bit of history….
Going back to the 13th Century there was the beginning of a Farmhouse. A small farmhouse and lots of land. It’s a natural place for a farm, with a history of dyers, tailings of great glaciers, and sand and gravel deposited when the glaciers receded. This part of Scotland had 1km of ice over it, creating a great bed for alluvial soils. Bonnytoun Farm has always been good for growing cereals, potatoes, and is a wealthy lowland farm.
In 1840, Adam Dawson purchased Bonnytoun, grew grain, produced malt, set up Bonnytoun Distillery because the farm has perfect burtonised water (rich in minerals) flowing at a rate of 10 gallons a minute. When Adam Dawson became wealthier and more successful, he moved his business to the current site of the St Magdalene’s flats, Linlithgow, with easy transport links to the canal and the railway. He went on to become the Provost, tried to do up Bonnytoun farmhouse, didn’t like it, built Bonnytoun House and then moved there instead!
The Cadell family were established coal miners in Bo’ness, having lived there since the 1780s. Ben's Great grandfather was Henry Moubray Cadell (b. 1860 d.1934). HMC (initials on farmhouse) did very well, mining 6ft coal seams, 1km under forth, better than 3ft coal because it was possible to work upright rather than lying down. The seam extended halfway to Fife. HMC became very successful and bought Bonnytoun Farm from the Mickles in the late ‘80s. The coal mine breached in the middle of the night in 1890, no one was hurt, but his successful business came to an end. Bonnytoun was rented out for the next 100 years.
The ownership of the farm was passed to Ben in 1995, although still rented out. Ben finally took over the farm in 2007 – a familiar place having worked on the farm in his summer holidays from the age of 14. Together with his experience from living in the Southern States, supported by his agricultural degree, he has worked tirelessly to restore Bonnytoun to its potential (and still is!), installing clean water systems, creating habitats and food for local wildlife, harnessing nutrition from natural sources, growing organic vegetables and keeping sheep as part of the farm management plan.
There is a lot more going on at Bonnytoun Farm than one might first think.
Bonnytoun is home to Grow Wild Farm Shop (and the delivery business)
Bonnytoun is home to the Bonnytoun Flock: Blackfaced sheep, pedigree Shetlands and Herdwicks.
Bonnytoun has a 1-acre organic orchard
Bonnytoun is home to Bonnytoun Livery
Bonnytoun is home to Bonnytoun Cottages
Ben’s Bonnytoun haylage is sold out each year. Organic and non-organic
Bonnytoun will soon be home to the new wool shed to house a floor loomfor processing our flock's wool.
Bonnytoun has been the venue for Party at the Palace over the last few years
Bonnytoun has been used for outdoor plays over the last couple of years
Bonnytoun’s rich and wonderful fields contain worlds of herbs – and therefore has hosted seasonal herb walks.
It’s a busy old place...