The Bank Ground Farm Crew
We couldn't pull off the show we run at Bank Ground without the tremendous efforts of our fantastic team, they are literally extended family!
Farming and hospitality are relentless industries, weekends cease to exist, they are a way of life and having a good team with a cracking sense of humour and good work ethic makes our day's work a pleasure.
Jonathon, my husband was born and bred in Coniston and is the fifth generation farming at Bank Ground farm. We met in London in 2005 way back when we didn't have grey hairs and life was a little simpler! We moved to sunny Cumbria in 2009 to help out on the ever evolving farm. Perhaps this is the moment I introduce myself, hello! My name is Shayla and I'm not Cumbrian, in fact I'm not even British, I'm half Spanish half Irish... I know... what was he thinking, a foreigner!
We have always been keen travellers, foodies and pro-sustainable tourism, and always seek holidays for ourselves in which we can ditch the car and really get to know the area by foot or bike. We love the idea that you can arrive at a destination and not have to use a car, with activities and food immediately available. As such we decided to offer a similar holiday experience here at Bank Ground Farm.
It's certainly been an adventure, we have had setbacks and sad moments - from floods in 2009 destroying the boathouse and washing half of the farm into the lake, through to the loss of the Nanna (Lucy) Batty, matriarch of Bank Ground from 1954 to 2015 loved by many, for her wit, wisdom and forthright opinions. Other tricky moments have been foot and mouth and now of course 2020 the era of Covid 19, which has meant that we have had no guests at Bank Ground for the longest time since the Second World War.
It's not all doom and gloom! We have had a lot of fun times since our arrival back in 2009. We have expanded the tea rooms into a cafe and restaurant, overseen a change in the direction of the farm with the establishment of the pedigree herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle and purebred flock of Jacob Sheep complete with their own Guard Alpacas. We rebuilt one of the boathouses and also built a new jetty and boating area so we are now able to offer boats, bikes and SUPs for hire, as well as boat mooring and storage.
We started a small farm shop in 2014 focusing on locally made products, artisan in nature as well as environmentally friendly alternative products. We have started running workshops, open water swimming coaching, paddle boarding lessons and a boarding kennel for those wanting to bring four legged friends on their holiday, all this whilst getting married and starting a family of our own.
A few years ago our family was forced to reassess our eating habits. Our eldest daughter had become intolerant to lactalbumin (milk protein) and wheat, three years later our youngest also became intolerant to dairy. This was compounded by the fact that I (Shayla) had been struggling with abdominal pain for years, doctors had struggled to diagnose the symptoms and it wasn't until recently that we found out I have endometriosis. Endometriosis is often mistaken for IBS, celiac or Crohn disease as its symptoms mimic digestive tract diseases, it is an inflammatory disease that causes pain typically in the pelvic area but also in abdomen, as such I was advised to follow a special anti-inflammatory diet that involved avoiding dairy, gluten and processed food. It was time that we rethink our diets, they way we eat and the way we shop. Processed foods were completely out, eating at a friends house and even eating out in restaurants became incredibly difficult, to begin with even cooking at home became difficult. That's when we came across the paleo diet. We do not advocate a strict paleo diet but a lot of the thinking behind it makes lots of sense and has certainly helped us.
Our version of a Paleo diet
A paleo diet is designed to resemble what human hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago when there would have been much lower rates of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, food allergies and heart disease.
Until you live with food allergies you don't really appreciate which foods contain gluten and dairy. It certainly isn't just bread and milk.
So what should you ideally stock up in the fridge and cupboards? It’s impossible to know exactly what our human ancestors ate however researchers believe their diets consisted mainly of these unprocessed ingredients:
- Meat (ideally grass fed in the fields surrounding Bank Ground Farm!): Beef, lamb, chicken, pork and game
- Fish and seafood (ideally wild or line caught): Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, etc.
- Eggs: free-range and ideally organic hen, duct or quail eggs.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries, blueberries...
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips...
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds...
- Healthy fats and oils: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil...
- Salt and spices: Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, coriander, rosemary...
What should you ideally avoid? If it was made in a factory, probably best not to eat it, well at least not regularly...we're big believers in everything in moderation is the way to go - there is no point in being miserable - cake and ice cream are absolutely essential to everyones mental wellbeing but there are alternatives. Here's our list of top nasties that we try to avoid as much as possible, Jonathon is a big cheese eater as is grandad Batty so they often break the dairy one!:
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin etc...
- Processed foods and additives: spam, diet milkshakes, monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Trans fats: aka "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" oils. e.g. margarine
- Grains: Bread, pasta, wheat, spelt, rye, barley...
- Dairy: Avoid most dairy, in our case cow's milk is the devil but sheep cheese and goats is ok.
- Sugar: Fizzy drinks, soft fruity juices, table sugar, sweets, pastries, ice cream...