Wiston Estate’s home farm is made up of 1,100 acres of chalk grassland and 1,200 acres of arable land. Though we have moved from oxen to tractors, the aim remains the same: to grow food well whilst nurturing the soil on which our farming and the local community depend.
Our farm runs a hybrid model, mixing conventional techniques with fresh thinking. At the moment, for example, we are experimenting with minimal tillage techniques in order to increase soil carbon capture, as evidence shows that by increasing organic matter in soil, farmers can safely sequester huge amounts of carbon in the land. We also grow heritage grains, including landrace varieties, to explore alternatives to monocultures. We set a fifth of our arable land aside each year to improve biodiversity and the farm also takes part in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s nature surveys. The Estate is an active and enthusiastic member of a local landscape-scale conservation project, the Arun to Adur Farmers’ Group.
On the wider Estate we are committed to diversity in farming and enable tenancies with a number of small-scale family farms. Nine of these farms are in agri-environment schemes, and one is organic.
Wiston Estate is ours to shape, so we encourage each other to exhibit care and ownership in everything we do. As Dan Barber says: “We cannot have good food – healthy, sustainable or delicious – without soil filled with life.”