About Hartley Farm
Our farm is a 150 acre, family-run farm in the village of Winsley on the Wiltshire-Somerset border. The land has been farmed by our family for over five generations. The production of the farm has changed through the generations like the many other farms across Britain but our focus now is in pursuing regenerative methods. Regenerative farming by definition is “a system of principles and practices that generates agricultural products, sequesters carbon, and enhances biodiversity at the farm scale.” In essence this was the way of farming before the dawn of science and techonology, guided by the natural world and the seasons. Our farm now produces organic vegetables and salads and is home to a native-breed suckler herd producing grass-fed beef for our farm shop.
Find out more about our farming principles below…
Historically, our farm was a series of small paddocks, perfect for grazing ruminents due to our shallow Cotswold-brash soil. This soil is filled with stones, making it difficult to work cultivators and ploughs but a brilliant platform for growing grass. All of our fields have been returned to permanent pasture now and we are set on a course of farming principles that puts a priority on soil regeneration and bio-diversity. This in turn regenerates a whole ecosystem on our farm maximising the health of the natural order and minimising synthetic inputs. We build carbon back in our soil by creating species-rich, permanent-pasture fields that are grazed periodically by our livestock. Plants are left to grow and build strong root structures that also improve water retention of the soil before being grazed by our animals and being naturally fertilised by the manure they leave behind.
We farm native breeds that are suited to our local climate. Our Hereford and Angus cattle flourish on our pastures and eat nothing but grass all year round. There is no soya or grains diverted into their food chain in order to encourage fast growth. They roam the fields grazing and growing slowly and naturally off a diet produced solely from our farm. We also cut hay and haylage later in the season, providing fodder for the winter and also to encourage later flowering species to produce their seeds for visiting birds and also to regenerate themselves by dropping into the soil below. This is a farming system typical of the early 20th century, forged from thousands of years of knowledge passed on through generations before the birth of industrial, large scale agriculture.
A Natural Approach
We have restored thousands of metres of native-species hedgerows to carve up our larger fields into smaller paddocks allowing our animals to graze smaller areas, less often. The hedgerows have restored natural habitats for insects, birds and small mammals and provide shelter for our livestock in the colder months. Helping the natural world to flourish on our farm is a lifetime’s work but a guiding principle for our farm.
Read the latest from our Farm Journal
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