Sustainable farming

Photo of Tom and Chloe of Sustainable Farm Church Farm Oxford

One of our objectives is to build a farming business that is economically, environmentally, and personally sustainable. 

Church Farm is a 135 acre Red Deer farm with 160 breeding hinds split into three herds, eight breeding stags and up to 130+ calves/yearlings.

Church Farm is a prime example of a newly developed sustainable farming business, where the environment is being progressively protected and enhanced. One of the first challenges we faced when we purchased the land in 2017 was to make it good again! It had been left untouched for a number of years and so initially we had to strip back and remove a number of dead trees and brambles however our priority then was to replace these. We received a Countryside Stewardship grant which enabled us to plant more than 300 trees and just under 6000 metres of new hedge plants over three years, with more planting planned. This has hugely increased biodiversity, created healthy soil and encouraged new bird life, including Britain’s smallest owl - the Little Owl - making its home here. Ensuring that the natural environment our animals live in provides them with the highest quality shelter, safety and good pasture that they need to thrive is our top priority.

Photo of Tom and Chloe at their Sustainable Farm Church Farm Oxford

We acquired a 35 acre parcel of land in 2020 which allows us to grow all of our own forage for our deer rather than buying and shipping it in. A lot of work went into clearing, improving soil health, and restoring the land for good, clean agricultural use. Utilising environmental land management practices, we cultivated the land, drilled in new herbal leys and carried out an overseeding project last Autumn. This patch of land will look similar to a wild flower meadow and will provide the highest quality natural nutrition for our animals to enjoy. This all-round mixture also promotes biodiversity, creates habitats, produces pollen and nectar, and is also a superb natural soil conditioner and produces top quality forage for the herds to enjoy year-round.

In order to rear the healthiest of animals, we understand that there has to be good crop rotation and management to enable a natural diet, clean water and a well-functioning ecosystem surrounding the farming operation. It is imperative that we continue our land stewardship and community schemes in order to increase biodiversity around Church Farm and our herds. As part of the government’s Sustainable Farming Incentive we receive funding for veterinary advice on how we can continually improve the health and welfare of our livestock.

We know many farming systems are not perfect. All industries have their challenges but we constantly strive to be on the front foot with them. We want to create a long term platform for the next generation to market profitable and sustainable products.