A Working Farm
OUR FARM, LAND, MISSION AND ANIMALS
Green Farm is a 50 acre co-operative working farm in a very special area of the Kent countryside. Whilst small, Green Farm includes areas of special scientific interest, ancient pastures and a designated ancient woodland, all within a Kent Local Wildlife Site. Across the property, the Farm landscape varies from permanent pasture to rivers, streams, ponds, ancient woodlands, herbal grasslands and of course the original Farmhouse.
Located just west of Ashford, Kent, Green Farm is in a conservation-led livestock farm, that is committed to only employing sustainable and regenerative farming practices. The focus is to enhance the land for the wildlife that calls it home, and produce the best quality Beef, Lamb, Mutton and Pork in the most natural way possible. Regenerative farming is based on techniques and thinking to improve soil health that integrates organic farming, permaculture, restoration ecology and holistic management.
The make-up of the Farm is 85% traditional grass meadows, 10% ancient oak woodland and 5% farmhouse and surrounding buildings, which we have diversified into our commercial business of luxury accommodation and a boutique Spa.
The Farm is run by the family together with good friends and neighbours, Jules and Emily Polybank.
Whilst The Farm is only 50 acres, we believe a small farm can still have a big positive impact ecologically, agriculturally and within society. We aim to educate and inspire everyone who visits us and beyond the farm gate too, the nucleus of this being the Pearce Coggan Foundation and our Community Wildlife & Vegetable Garden.
Creating the most sustainable and environmentally friendly Farm, focusing on producing the best quality 100% grass-fed meat with the highest welfare standards, has always been our mission.
All our meadows and pastures on the Farm are completely free from pesticides and other chemicals, and are managed in a very traditional way. All our land is essentially organic, although we are too small to be certified, but it means that all our meat and garden produce is completely organic and chemical-free too.
The Kent Wildlife Trust surveyed our pastures in 2014 and identified that most of Green Farm's fields are a 'lowland meadow grassland' priority habitat, under the UK and Kent Biodiversity Action Plans (UK BAP11 / KBAP12) and a Habitat of Principal Importance on S41of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act, 2006.13.
It is estimated that 97% of lowland meadows have been lost nationally since the 1930s; this dramatic decline is usually attributable to agricultural intensification and the switch from hay production to silage in the past 40 years. Lowland meadows have a rich diversity of species of flora and fauna and the most recent estimates suggest that as little as 7500ha of lowland meadow may remain in England.
Lowland meadows support rare and declining species, and although usually dominated by grass species including sweet vernal, crested dog's tail, bents, fescues and adder's-tongue fern, it is the flowers which make this habitat aesthetically appealing to the general public. These include green-winged and common spotted-orchid, yellow rattle, oxeye daisy, dyer’s greenweed and pepper saxifrage.
Ancient Woodland and Nightingales
For us, there is one natural spectacular at Green Farm that is truly magical to witness. Every Spring, a fewthousand nightingales fly to
the UK fromAfrica and take up temporary residence at a handful of locations in the south of England, and we at Green Farm are
incredibly lucky that our surrounding woodlands offer the ideal conditions for these secretive creatures to hide away. So whilst other wildlife settles down for the night, this little brown bird’s trills and whistles ring out. Its song is so impressive in both tone and volume
that it can be heard nightly for around six weeks from mid-April through to the end of May.
In a typical year, the livestock on the Farm consists of: 7-10 head of cattle; 20-30 ewes; 20-30 lambs; 4-6 pigs and around 15 chickens. All animals are completely free range and raised as naturally as possible.
Our cattle are an Aberdeen Angus-Hereford cross and thrive on their 100% natural grass-diet and are kept outdoors all year round, even in Winter when we supplement their diet with our own hay from the previous Summer harvest. We mob graze them across our fields so that they constantly have the best and freshest grass, and so that the grass gets its best chance to regrow, which also improves the health of our soil. Over the years, we have had several calves born, usually 2 a year, and those animals are fed on their mother’s milk for as long as the mothers let the calves suckle. No other feed is given to our cows throughout their lifetime which makes our beef truly delicious and full of natural nutrients and vitamins.
Our Romney sheep also graze our fields on a 100% natural grass diet all year round and being a native breed rom Kent are well suited to our traditional meadows. We lamb outdoors in April, enabling our ewes to find shelter under our hedgerows and ensuring they have fresh spring grass to provide the best quality milk to the new arrivals. Lambing outside in the sheep’s natural environment enables them to behave naturally when it comes to giving birth and we rarely have to intervene. Like our beef, our lamb, hogget and mutton meat, is full of nutrients and flavour and grown slowly to ensure the best quality possible.
Unlike our sheep and cattle which we have all year round, once a year we get 4-6 pigs to raise for pork from the local market. Our pigs are raised outdoors from piglets and are completely free-range. In their area of the field they root and wallow in their communal paddock and have a spacious ark shelter if they need it. They are bred to the highest welfare standards with plenty of space to explore, be sociable and wallow in the mud on sunny days, as nature intended. Our pigs are lucky enough to be fed on local Plurenden Manor Farm milk, our apples as well as any food scraps from the kitchen that don’t go into the compost.
Our chickens are entirely free-range and guests will often see them wondering about the Farm and fields. Produced to lay eggs rather than for meat, our chickens have a diet of natural corn as well as foraged grains and grasses that they eat in the fields when they are roaming around during the day. The chlorophyll in the grass makes their yolks amazingly yellow and their whites wonderfully firm.