Guy and Mary Hole started the business in 1962 when they took on the tenancy to a small farm in the Isle of Purbeck on the south coast of Dorset. In time three of their children; John, Andy and Jerry came into the farming business creating a partnership, and more recently cousins Ben and Mark joined the business. Over the fifty years since the business has grown in many directions; two dairies, beef, sheep, pig, arable and meat enterprises make up the farm business, as well as two guesthouses and restaurant within the family tree.
Despite this growth, we do our best to adhere to a traditional style of farming to suit the undulating valleys, hedgerows and woodlands of the Purbecks, whilst using modern equipment and methods. Sustainable farming is most important to us. Below are the key points of the business and how it all links together....
- The crops we grow (wheat, barley, oil seed rape, oats and maize) are primarily grown to provide feed and straw bedding for our own livestock, with any produce left being sold for further processing, such as porridge and biscuits. We crop rotate our grounds over the space of 5 years so the soil keeps it's best.
- Grass is plentiful in the Isle of Purbeck! We cut down our grass to produce our own clamp silage to feed to the dairy cows, wrap silage/haylage bales for the beef cattle, and make hay to feed to the sheep throughout the winter months when they're indoors. Otherwise, the animals are roaming the greenery as much as they can when the conditions allow, and we mix how the graze the grounds throughout the year (sheep late winter/early spring, then cattle after that).
- We manage slurry, discarded bedding and farmyard manure as a natural fertiliser as best as we can, spreading it on cut crop ground to plough back in (stubble), or on short grass ground to help it grow. It's in our interest to do this to reduce fertiliser costs!
- In the dairies we produce a high quality milk that contains high levels of butterfat and protein, and we sell all of our milk currently to Muller and LIDL. Our farm and the dairy cows have also featured in Muller's Milk & More scheme, a highly regarded product/service from a well known company.
- We rear our own replacement heifers for the dairies using the cows in the dairy herds, as well as rearing our own beef cattle from the steers that are born.
- We regularly uptake schemes to encourage wildlife diversification on our farm, including wild flower patches and woodland/scrub clearance.
- To reduce food miles, our animals are slaughtered as locally as possible. Meat required for our own butchery travels to the nearest private slaughterhouse which is 35 miles from us, whilst other animals travel to an ABP slaughterhouse which is 30 miles away. Approximately 30% of the animals we produce, we butcher and sell ourselves.
- We are registered with the Red Tractor scheme, Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb (FABBL), Assured Combinable Crops (ACC) and the National Dairy Farm Assurance Scheme (NDFAS).