Pasture Champions: Fidelity Weston and Romshed Farm
Tell us about your farm, its location, size, altitude, climate, soils and enterprises?
Romshed Farm straddles the heavy weald clay and drier Greensand Ridge, just outside Sevenoaks in Kent.
We own 200 acres of land and seasonally graze in a further 50 acres or so in the immediate area. We moved here in 1984, farmed conventionally with 450 breeding ewes, and then, in 2000 we converted to organic with the Soil Association, reduced our sheepflock to around 150 Lleyn ewes, bought in Traditional Hereford cattle and we now have a suckler herd of 23 cows and keep the young finishing them when they are around 30 months old, so have around 60-70 cattle at any one time. Over the years we have run pigs and poultry.
We have always placed biodiversity and conservation at the heart of our farming.
Over the 37 years that we have been here it is interesting to reflect on what this has meant to us at different times and how our approach has changed, such that it feels like a journey that is never finished.
Give us a general description of the biodiversity on your farm.
We live in a beautiful part of the UK, it is heavily wooded and looking out across The Weald from the top of the Greensand Ridge all you can really see is mature trees and woodland, yet we are in heavily populated commuter belt with much conventional livestock and cereal farming going on.
The farm is typical of this particular corner of west Kent – small well hedged fields, heavy clay or poor greensand soils. We have all the typical birds, moths, butterflies, insects, birds, small mammals and fungi associated with this landscape and over the years we have focused on increasing it in every way but particularly on the diversity of our pastures.
In this wooded landscape it is the pastures that need to be encouraged more than anything – semi natural grassland has declined by 97% in the last 50 years with the associated decline of all the species that rely on it.
I like to think that under our stewardship of the farm that we have started to reverse this decline at Romshed and this process continues.