Farming with nature in mind
Brockhampton is very much still a working estate as it has been for hundreds of years. Today a large part of the estate is farmed by James and Victoria Hawkins and their four sons.
Warren Farm is situated at the top of the estate, with stunning views of the surrounding Herefordshire and Worcestershire countryside. James and Victoria moved into the farm in 2001 and aimed to diversify the produce they grew as much as possible. To this day they have grown and produced several award winning products.
The Warren’s most successful item to date is the additive-free Rapeseed oil which has been awarded a Fine Farm Produce Award. Products not only have to excel in the obligatory taste test, but entrants also have to pass a checklist of environmental standards to guarantee the quality and origin of ingredients alongside high standards of production. The winners are decided by a judging panel consisting of ten food and drink experts.
" As part of our arable rotation we grow oil seed rape which has historically fulfilled a useful role as a "break crop" in the farm rotation - to suppress weeds and improve soil quality - for cereal crops such as wheat and barley"
They have also branched out into producing delicious damson and cider vinegar, jellies and jams all made with the fruits of Brockhampton orchards.
The Warrens also farm in an environmentally friendly fashion, taking into consideration the needs of the residing wildlife on the estate. Each year the Warren's plant large wildflower margins along their arable fields to help encourage bees and butterflies. Long stretches of boarge, phacelia, birdsfoot trefoil and red clover not only look stunning but offer wonderful habitats, the sound of happy bees buzzing is incredible on sunny days here.
" In our arable crops we have created habitats for birds, using wild bird mixes and wildflower margins; this has helped provide sites for feeding, nesting and over-wintering"
James also manages a herd of Herefordshire cattle, which were reintroduced to the estate in 2002. During the summer months you can see the cattle grazing the fields around Lower Brockhampton. The cattle are part of the Pasture Fed Livestock association which encourages animals to eat only grass and forage crops for their entire life; so it is good for you as a consumer, good for our animal welfare and good for our farm environment. When an animal is fit it is taken to the abattoir and then the meat is hung for three to four weeks to allow the true flavours to mature. The Hawkins' Herefordshire topside beef won the National Trust's Golden Award in 2009 for its outstanding flavour and texture.
As well as hosting open-days alongside Brockhampton, the farm is open to visit and runs as a bed and breakfast and afternoon teas are served in their tea-room situated on the farm. You can find out more details on the Warren Farm website.