We have been farming sustainably since 1929, when the Estate was purchased by Spedan Lewis - the founder of the John Lewis Partnership. Spedan Lewis cared about the environment, was enthusiastic about the natural world and he put this at the heart of how he wanted to farm on the Leckford Estate.
We use more modern farming practices today, but we still adopt the same approach to sustainable farming set out by Spedan Lewis - which is as important to us now as ever before.
Our farm is a mixed farm of arable, orchards, vineyards, forage crops and beef supplying most of our produce to Waitrose & Partners shops and our own farm shop on the Estate. We are farmers that look to lead by example through innovation, learning and sharing new ways of farming.
As regenerative farmers we produce food in a way that will enrich our natural environment, by enhancing biodiversity, improving soil fertility and soil health, reducing waste and improving water quality. Our aim: make decisions today that will enhance the health of the environment and our business.
GROWN ON THE FARM
We grow wheat as our main crop which is milled to produce our range of Leckford flours. Crop rotation is an important part of regenerative farming, so we also grow barley, oats and oilseed rape. Our oilseed rape crop is used in Leckford cold pressed rapeseed oil which is pressed and bottled on the Estate and sent directly to our farm shop and Waitrose supermarkets.
Our orchards span around 30 acres and we grow a variety of apples and pears for eating and cooking and any surplus fruit is made into Leckford cider or Leckford apple juice. The shallow, chalky soils at Leckford are typically not ideal for growing high yielding fruit - but our soil gives our apples a wonderful taste and crispness.
Our vineyards also make the most of the soil conditions at Leckford, as these are the perfect growing conditions for the grapevines that produce the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes for Leckford sparkling wine.
Planted in 2009 and then expanded in 2017 we now have around 18 acres of vines. The vineyards are a striking display as you drive through Leckford, sloping gently towards the sun. We don’t bottle on the Estate but we work closely with the experts at Ridgeview Winery who do - making sure every bottle is as good as the last.
HOW WE FARM
- We produce food to the highest standards and the highest quality.
- We share knowledge and good practice with other farmers and stakeholders.
- We innovate by embracing technology that will help us to become more efficient and help protect our natural resources.
- We teach future farmers and future generations, providing an environment to train and open days for learning.
Our Farming team is headed up by Andrew the Farming Manager. Andrew has 30 years experience in farming and teaching agriculture. Growing up on a sheep farm in Scotland and taking an interest in farming from an early age, keen to help out on his family’s farm.
Tom who manages the day to day running of the farm has spent all of his life on the family farm too and has a wealth of experience managing livestock and arable farms. His small but dedicated team of Partners have over 75 years of combined experience in farming and conservation management.
Farming Environmental Ethos
As The Waitrose & Partners Farm we are best placed to advise on producing and growing good quality food and drink that customers will love to shop. We are exemplary farmers, working with other farms and our retailing colleagues, demonstrating good practice and insight into sustainable farming and food production.
We are one of just a small number of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Demonstration Farms in the UK, which means as farmers we practice and promote the principles of Integrated Farm Management. Our products meet the rigorous standards set by LEAF and carry the LEAF Marque, giving customers the assurance that our products are farmed and produced ethically and sustainably.
FARMING IN HARMONY
Over a third of the 2,800 acres of land that makes up the Leckford Estate is not farmed but is managed in a way that enhances biodiversity. This land is made up of water meadows, woodlands, hedgerows, wildflower meadows, field margins and other dedicated non-farmed areas. Creating habitats for wild birds, pollinators and rare arable plants.
Our main crop is wheat and as part of our regenerative crop rotation we grow barley, oats and oilseed rape. Fodder for our cattle - maize, lucerne, and rotational grass leys - is also grown on the Estate.
To help promote biodiversity, our 500 beef suckler herd will graze the extensive semi-natural areas of water meadows and chalk grassland that stretch out from the banks of the River Test that flows through the middle of Leckford Estate.
A critical part of our regenerative crop rotation involves planting herbal leys. This is a mixed temporary crop of herbs, grasses and legumes which will be grazed by our cattle, adding nutrients, helping to return fertility and improving soil health. And meaning our cattle will spend more of their time outdoors.
Soils left undisturbed and with year round plant cover can sequester more carbon. This means we now sow the majority of our crops causing minimal soil disturbance, and adopt a crop rotation system that incorporates winter cover crops, ensuring the soil is kept covered for longer. In addition we overwinter sheep from other farms that fill up on some of these winter cover crops, whilst other cover crops will be mulched ahead of the next sowing season.
Leckford is also part of the Farm Advisory Group for the Small Robot Company. This innovative company is reimagining farming to make food production sustainable. Using robots and artificial intelligence, the company optimises plant yield while minimising chemical input – for farming that’s both efficient and eco-friendly.