THE future Agriculture Bill might have prompted UK farmers to start thinking harder about sustainability, but for couple Alan and Sarah Breckons, keeping a low carbon footprint has always been a priority.

The Breckons name might be known around Bellingham, with the family having farmed there for over more than hundred years, but Alan and Sarah only moved to Northumberland in October 2010 as newlyweds, when they took over the 450 acre eco-farm, Haining Head.

Although neither had grown up on a farm themselves, both had plenty of experience in the industry. Sarah’s father took on the role of regional director for the East-Anglia National Farmers’ Union for 17 years, whilst Alan learned the ropes through his grandfather Tommy who farmed at Foundry Farm, Bellingham.

“The eco-farm was a project started by Alan’s father Malcolm,” said Sarah. “He was an inventor of sorts rather than a farmer like his father Tommy, and worked designing energy efficient heat saving devices. He bought Haining Head so he could be close to Tommy, and then put his heart and soul into making it into something.”

So what categorises Haining Head as being eco-friendly?

The farm is off-the-grid with water, and instead sources it from a borehole which takes water from the natural spring which the property sits on.

Eighty per cent of the hot water used is provided by solar panels, and the other 20 per cent through a ground source heat system.

Following in Malcolm’s footsteps, Sarah and Alan have introduced some sustainable changes to the farm of their own.

“We upgraded the two small wind turbines which we kept on top of the shed to a larger 11 kilo version, because the others kept blowing away.

“The wind turbine powers all the electric in the house, we also power our electric car through it,” said Alan.

Although the couple are passionate about farming, developing and building sustainably, Sarah and Alan’s other top priority is the welfare of the 350 Texel cross ewes, Hereford cross cattle herd and three pedigree Berkshire pigs which currently reside at Haining Head.

“So long as our animals are happy and we’re producing quality goods, everything else we do on the farm is an addition,” said Sarah.

One addition which was launched back in 2012 was a touring caravan site.

“We branched out into farm diversification because like most farmers, we need other outlets to make profit possible,” said Alan.

“It is also a way for us to cover our back in this political climate, where we can’t say what the future holds,” added Sarah.

“Because we are a working farm, we can educate guests from non-farming backgrounds on what we do everyday.

“Some of them have even chipped in during lambing in the past! We’re looking to install camping pods on the farm next, we’ve always got a project on the go.”