Press Release

Dumfries House Estate’s Home Farm to Host LILIS 2019 Organic Event

By 15th May 2019 No Comments

Following the growing success of their Livestock in Low Input Systems (LILIS) event, the Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA) have announced that this year’s conference will take place at Home Farm, on the Dumfries House estate.

SOPA is once again joining forces with Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G) to host the LILIS conference, which will be held on Friday 7th of June from 11 am to 4 pm at Home Farm, near Cumnock in Ayrshire. Attendees will be able to find out more about the newly certified organic farm and the year-round events that happen, as well as take part in an on-farm tour. The conference will also include a long lunch with plenty of time for networking.

The 2019 LILIS conference brings together some innovative thinkers to discuss this year’s theme: holistic management of the farm.

Tickets cost £44.10 and can be purchased at

Dumfries House’s Home Farm is home to 100 cows – mainly Beef Shorthorn, Whitebred Shorthorns, and Veynols – and 650 ewes of a mixture of breeds.

At the adjacent Valentin’s Education Farm, the recent Spring Festival of Farming attracted 500 primary school pupils. The education farm hosts hundreds of school pupils each month, with a total of 6,758 pupils paying day visits to Dumfries House estate in 2018 to embarking on programmes at the education farm, the outdoor centre, a facility dedicated to STEM activity, the education garden and kitchen, and The Atelier, which is home to a fashion and textiles initiative.

The new organic status of Home Farm marks the realisation of a major element of the vision of HRH The Prince of Wales, who saved the estate for the nation 12 years ago. The commercial farm on the 2000-acre estate attained full organic certification earlier this year from the Scottish Organic Producers Association in recognition of its commitment to good farming practice.

John Rowell, farm manager, said:

“It’s been a long road to reach organic status, but we’re delighted with the accreditation by SOPA. We completed a two-year conversion period to attain organic status so the change in practice has been gradual. The reaction to the farm’s organic status has been great, too, with members of the general public always saying good, positive things about it.

“At Home Farm, we regularly host different breeds’ societies, who come to share knowledge and gain an update on our progress. Even though this is a busy time of year for us, we’re looking forward to hosting the LILIS event, which presents a chance to catch up with similar-minded people. I’m particularly looking forward to the presentations, including the talk on holistic raising and management, which is a fascinating subject.”


Christopher and Sheila Cooke

The keynote speakers for the 2019 LILIS event will be Christopher and Sheila Cooke, Savory Institute accredited professionals from 3LM, the Savory Network hub for the UK and Ireland.

Christopher and Sheila will deliver an active learning workshop on how to read and work with the self-organising dynamic of nature. This will encourage delegates to look at their current farming practices and introduce some ideas that will enable them to unlock the full potential of their land.

They will introduce the four ecosystem processes in a morning workshop, after which attendees will be able to put learning into practice on a Land Discovery Tour at Home Farm on the Dumfries House Estate.

Delegates will leave with the knowledge of how to use a simple tool for analysing the function of the ecosystem processes on their farm. As soil is a fundamental building block of wealth, it’s worthwhile to understand what it’s telling us. Is it healthy? What could we do differently to unlock its full potential?

Christopher Cooke has 18 years of experience training, coaching and advising people in the adoption of a holistic mindset. With extensive leadership and advisory experience related to biological agriculture in the UK and Australia, Christopher will be able to offer an insight into environmental monitoring and control and the psychology and management of change.

With 20 years of experience supporting international distributors to grow industrial businesses, Sheila Cooke is a pioneer in her field. With degrees in sociology/anthropology and international business, Sheila and 3LM are looking to increase the number of hectares under the influence of holistic management in the British Isles.

Sheila Cooke, keynote speaker at this year’s event had the following to say:

“I am really looking forward to being part of SOPA’s LILIS event this year, and both Christopher and I are excited to be the keynote speakers for 2019. It will be a really educational day, not just for the attendees, but for us too, as we get to meet farmers from across the country and hopefully discuss ways they can put holistic management into practice on their land.”

Debs Roberts, Policy Manager at SOPA, added:

“It’s so wonderful to see our LILIS event grow each year, and we’re thrilled to be able to announce that this year’s event will be taking place at Home Farm on the Dumfries House Estate. The farm received its organic certification from SOPA at the beginning of this year, so it ties in really well with this year’s event.”

She continued:

“We are looking forward to welcoming Christopher and Sheila Cooke to LILIS this year. Their workshop and tour will be a fascinating insight into land management, and we believe that all our attendees will be able to take something useful away from the day, whether it’s new contacts or some ideas to implement on their own farm.

“Christopher and Sheila are renowned for their unique insight into farming practices and land management, and we hope that delegates at this year’s conference will leave with some insight into simply analysing the function of the ecosystem processes on their farms.”



Notes for Editors:

  • Tickets for LILIS 2019 can be found at
  • Please find attached an image of Christopher and Sheila Cooke
  • 3LM’s aim is to generate a societal shift of food and fibre grown on regenerating soils, which is led by inspired farmers, food retailers, wildlife trusts, water companies, conservationists and consumers.
  • The Scottish Organic Producers Association is uniquely the UK’s only membership-based not for profit organic co-operative, governed by a board of directors, all of whom are rooted in the organic industry in Scotland.
  • SOPA holds the only Scottish-based organic standards for farmers, growers and processors.
  • SOPA has nearly 350 members throughout the UK and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2018.
  • For more information about the LILIS conference or SOPA, please contact Iona St Joseph of Scene and Herd PR Agency or 07762786557.


The programme for this year’s LILIS event is as follows:

10:30 Tea and coffee welcome for LILIS delegates

11:00 Conference begins. Welcome from SOPA and Home Farm

11:15 Active learning workshop ‘Releasing the Power of Nature’

12:30 Networking lunch

13:30 Tour of Home Farm by John Rowell

14:30 Land discovery tour. Participants assess the health of the ecosystem and process function on the land so they are able to repeat this exercise back home on their own farm.

15:00 Return to conference venue to debrief the Land Discovery Tour

15:30 Adjourn for tea and coffee

16:00 Close of conference

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