Chalton historic farm tours, South Downs, England

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All of the buildings are made with locally sourced sustainable materials. The wood is from the nearby woodland, the wattle and daub uses locally sourced clay and chalk and our new visitors centre has been built from Cedar taken from Cowdray Park. The visitors centre has been designed to be as sustainable as possible; we use a biomass boiler for heating; have solar panels on the roof; rain water harvesting toilets and a reed bed process for sewage.

Being a farm we have a large amount of open space so we get a lot of wildlife coming onto the land. For the natural wildlife there is plenty of space for them to roam around, we get Pheasants and Buzzards flying over head. There are plenty of places for birds to nest as all of our buildings are open, so the birds can fly in and out at will. The roofs are made of straw so they have plenty of materials for building nests. One year in the Roman villa some Swallows built a nest above an open door; we kept door open until they left so not to disturb their nest. We found a nest in the technology building as well and there are weather stations and hedgerows for them to nest in too.

We have lots of wild flowers and hedge rows growing on our farm and we continue to plant them so that the wildlife can thrive. The hedge rows attract birds; the flowers are good for bees and butterflies and we welcome them all. We currently have a herb garden that a volunteer looks after and we are also hoping to create a new Roman garden.

As we are an experimental ancient farm we test out growing a variety of different crops in the ancient vegetable plots. We have Emmer Wheat, Spelt, Iron Corn, Celtic Beans and Hops at the moment but we vary what we grow at different times. A specialist comes in occasionally who is interested in cooking old Celtic recipes and cooks us up some traditional Celtic food. We have some of our own ancient breeds of sheep and pigs on the farm as well. The sheep are a breed called Manx Loughtan and are really amazing; they all have horns, some of ours have 4 horns and they can even have 6 horns. Again, we vary which animals we have at different times and we’ve had cattle, cockerels and chickens in the past. We produce meat from our animals on a small scale so that people can taste the difference between what they eat today and the organic free-range ancient breeds we have on the farm.

The farm is really accessible as it’s just off the A3 near the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. The nearest train stations are Petersfield and Rowland’s Castle; from there you can get on the 37 bus. The bus passes at the top of the road and stops at the Hampshire Hog pub. From there it’s about a 10 minute walk down the hill. There are plenty of cycle routes that come past here as well and if people are passing through they can stop off for refreshments, use the toilets or just come and visit the farm. People often arrive walking as there is a path that comes here from the Queen Elizabeth Country Park; they are intrigued by our windmill that can be seen in the distance and walk on over.

The Impacts of this Trip

We are really loyal to the local community and we make sure to support a lot of the local schools. We offer vouchers for raffle prizes for local fun days or fates. We also do free tours for various groups such as the parish council and we try to work in conjunction with local companies. We’ve got nice relationships with local businesses, for instance the local pubs; The Red Lion, The Hampshire and Hog and The Rising Sun are where we’d send people and likewise they send people to us. The Sustainability Centre and Queen Elizabeth Country Park are other places that people visit and we suggest them to our guests as places to visit and stay and they do the same. It’s good for us as businesses and great for visitors to get the most out of their trip to this area.

We have a gift shop where people can also buy small bits of food and refreshments; everything is locally sourced. The fudge we sell is made in Froxfield and we sell locally made ice cream & honey also. Most of the gifts we sell are bespoke and sometimes people who have volunteered for us will make things and sell them to us for the shop. There are also lots of pocket money priced gifts available as we have many school children coming to visit.


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