How Lady Carole Bamford Turned an Organic Farm into an Empire

The UK’s high priestess of sustainability shares her secrets to being a conscious consumer.

Lady Carole Bamford

Lady Carole Bamford’s lifelong commitment to wellness began 40 years ago in the garden of her Cotswolds estate. An early adopter of biodynamic practices, she turned her private patch of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers into a picture-perfect example of sustainable farmland. She named the organic oasis Daylesford, and in the decades that followed, turned it into a lifestyle empire that today includes everything from a restaurant in London and a winery in France to an organic skincare line and sustainable fashion label. The brand was also the impetus for the creation of Bamford Haybarn, Lady B’s organic spas with a cult-like following found everywhere from London to Brooklyn.

Bamford’s latest creative expression lies in her newly released cookbook, Nurture: Notes and Recipes from Daylesford Farm, whose colorful pages are a whimsical walk through her pastoral farm. In it, she shares recipes based on the native ingredients from the region—think asparagus risotto with wild garlic pesto and ginger pudding for dessert—as well as lifestyle tips on how to integrate ethical practices into all things beauty and food. We caught up with the maven of modern wellness to learn her secrets to leading a truly environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Daylesford farm Lady Carole Bamford

Lady Carole Bamford’s artful table setting at Daylesford farm  Photo: Courtesy

How can we become more conscious consumers?

I think it’s very important that we keep challenging our choices and questioning the way we consume. It’s not easy, though. Ethical and sustainable choices can be difficult to make as so many different factors come into play, including a product’s provenance, packaging, and taking into consideration fair trade and animal rights. But making even the smallest changes to our habits can lead to real change on a wide scale. If we constantly self-examine and try to improve our perspective and behaviors around our consumption, then wider and more impactful change can happen.

This approach is clearly a big part of the products you create for your own skincare line.

I didn’t want to be filling my body with the same chemicals I was avoiding in my food. Instead, I looked to nature for the purest ingredients possible to feed my skin. We create products with a function—they should actually do something for your body, rather than just smelling or feeling good. All ingredients are chosen for their medicinal and active properties, but they are also very much inspired by my surroundings. My garden is something I cherish, so many of the ingredients are inspired by the herbs and flowers I grow.

“The fashion and beauty industries are among the most wasteful and polluting, so it’s important that they take steps to reduce the damage they make to the earth.”

When you first created Haybarn Spa, alternative therapies were considered an indulgence rather than a pathway to healing. How has that changed?

Today that focus has shifted. Words like “meditation” and “self-care” are part of the everyday vernacular, and the range of treatments, therapies, and practices open to women is vast. I would never have imagined that acupuncture, cupping therapy, or gravity yoga could hit mainstream popularity, but we’re moving toward that. Brands are also much more aware of their customers’ values, and are waking up to the importance of making ethical decisions regarding their sourcing of ingredients and choice of packaging.

Lady Carole Bamford with daughter Alice

Lady Carole Bamford with daughter Alice  Photo: Courtesy

Do you think sustainability should be an essential component to contemporary brands?

It is vital. I believe that sustainability should be at the forefront of the way any business conducts its work—but the fashion and beauty industries are among the most wasteful and most polluting so it’s even more important that they take steps to reduce the damage they make to the earth and minimize the strain they place on its resources. When I began learning about cotton, for example, I was shocked by some of what went on in order to produce it. It’s why I decided to set up my own clothing line, so that I could account for each step in the creation of a garment.

“I believe that sustainability should be at the forefront of the way any business conducts its work.”

You are an advocate for transparency in all products—not just your own. How can we educate ourselves about a product before we buy it?

Naturismo is a very useful online resource for making sure you are buying ethically sourced products. Before stocking a product, it scrupulously checks the ingredients, origin, sustainability, effectiveness, and craftsmanship. None of the brands it stocks tests their products on animals. And its sourcing policy looks beyond the elimination of chemicals. It’s also about responsible sourcing, fair trade, animal rights, and eco-friendly lifestyles.

Lady Carole Bamford's Cookbook, Nurture

Nurture, a striking visual cookbook  Photo: Courtesy

As a successful entrepreneur, what advice do you have for women who are building businesses and brands?

Persistence is imperative. Don’t be prepared to take no for an answer. As a woman, it can still be difficult to find your voice in a world that is sometimes very dominated by men, so you need to be determined and have the confidence and the will to stick to your guns. Work with people who are knowledgeable. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a team who share my beliefs and passion for what we do but who are also experts in their field. And keep asking yourself questions. Think about how the product or service you are offering will inspire others to live more sustainably or responsibly. How can you give back to this planet and help better its future?

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