The estate is one of the largest single farm units in lowland Britain compromising of 9100ha. Of this 9100ha, 50% is farmed, whilst a large proportion is under environmental designation.
Farmer: Andrew Francis
Address: Elveden Farms Ltd, Elveden, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 3TQ
Member since 2003 and LEAF Demonstration Farm since 2013
Certification: LEAF Marque
The Elveden Estate, owned by the Guinness Family since 1984, is set in the heart of East Anglia, on the Norfolk Suffolk border. The estate is one of the largest single farm units in lowland Britain compromising of 9100ha. Of this 9100ha, 50% is farmed, whilst a large proportion is under environmental designation. Economies of scale and a long history of harnessing the latest technology ensure that Elveden stays at the forefront of innovation. The extensive diversification at Elveden presents a great example of this. Elveden is renowned for growing root vegetable and cereal crops.
The Elveden Estate, owned by the Guinness Family since 1894, is one of the largest single farm units in lowland Britain compromising of 9100 hectares. Of this, 50% is farmed and 30% is devoted to conservation. Elveden is renowned for growing root vegetable and cereal crops which are sold in supermarkets and manufacturers for leading product brands. Cereals are largely grown as break crops whilst onions, potatoes, carrots and parsnips are the primary output. More rye is grown at Elveden than on any other farm in the UK and are major suppliers to the nation’s crisp-bread bakers. A proportion of potatoes are sold through the ‘Garden of Elveden’ branding to restaurants and wholesalers whilst ‘Elveden Produce’ packs and brands Elveden onions for supermarket processing. The farm has diversified with a Kitchen Garden, growing niche varieties of vegetables for high-end restaurants. Elveden is also a McDonalds Flagship Farm and Agri-EPI Satellite Farm.
Elveden has become a highly diversified business which started almost 40 years ago when they began growing Christmas trees and are now currently the number one supplier of corporate and town centre display trees across Great Britain.
Although Elveden is largely arable, there is a flock of sheep and a South Devon suckler herd on the estate. The sheep help with heathland management whilst the cattle supply local meat through the farm shop. Elveden Estate is also a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). 1400ha of the estate is Breckland heathland which hosts many rare plants such as Perrenial Knawel, Spanish Catchfly and Fingered Speedwell.
Irrigation, mechanisation and a highly skilled production team are key to farming at Elveden. Water is stored in two reservoirs on the estate and is distributed by 130 miles of pipework throughout the estate.
Elveden is home to a number of prominent bird species including the Woodlark, Nightjar and Lapwing and host 25% of the UK’s stone curlew population. The conservation department monitors Stone Curlew populations and marks nests to protect them from farming operations. Residents on the estate are encouraged to record wildlife in their gardens and report back.
There is a specific soils nutrition group who discuss cultivation strategies, nutrient management and regularly look at soil condition using soil pits. Organic matter is built into the light sandy soils with pig slurry from a pig unit which tenants part of the farm.
Strong emphasis is placed on recycling and composting, and vegetable outgrades are sold through other markets or fed to pigs.
The Courtyard Shops, Café Restaurant and Elveden Inn are open to the public seven days a week, so access to an element of the farm is always possible. Elveden also hosts the ‘Big Onion Festival’ and works closely with local communities in 3 villages associated with the estate.
Particular interests/farming topics:
We are delighted to be a LEAF Demonstration Farm and are eager to share our passion for farming with organised groups. We are also keen to develop the farm and other operations through learning from visiting groups. The Courtyard Shops, Café Restaurant and Elveden Inn are open to the public seven days a week, so access to an element of the farm is always possible. However, tours to the wider estate must be booked in advance.
LEAF Demonstration Farms are commercial farms, which show the beneficial practices of Integrated Farm Management (IFM) to a broad range of audiences, through organised visits. They communicate an understanding of IFM in order to encourage uptake by farmers, support from the industry and political awareness of sustainable food and farming.
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