Occupying 2,800 acres, the Leckford Estate produces arable crops, apples, pears, grapes, and mushrooms, and has a herd of over 600 beef cattle.
Farmer: Andrew Ferguson
Address: The Estate Office, Leckford, Stockbridge, Hampshire, SO20 6DA
Member since 2001 and LEAF Demonstration Farm since 2004
Certification: LEAF Marque
The Leckford Estate runs to 2,800 acres, some two miles north of Stockbridge in Hampshire. The Estate is part of the John Lewis Partnership having been purchased by John Spedan Lewis in 1929. The Estate incorporates a commercial farm as well as a Farm Shop and Café, Longstock Park Nursery, Longstock Park Water Gardens and other leisure facilities for use by John Lewis Partnership staff. In August 2001, the Estate became part of Waitrose and sells produce under the Leckford Estate brand or through the Waitrose supply chain. The Estate is LEAF Marque Certified and produces arable crops, apples, pears and mushrooms.
Apples and pears from its 30 acre fruit farm are sold to Waitrose, with some also sold through the Farm Shop, as well as processed into fruit juice (and sometimes cider too!). Two vineyards, planted in 2009 and 2017, and covering 17 acres, produce 35-40,000 bottles of Leckford Estate sparkling wine each year. A purpose-built mushroom farm produces 26-30 tonnes of brown/chestnut mushrooms each week for sale through Waitrose stores. Wheat produced on the Estate is milled, bagged and retailed through Waitrose as Leckford Estate branded flour. Rapeseed is pressed and bottle on the Estate for sale as cold-pressed rapeseed oil through Waitrose and the Farm Shop. The Estate is also home to 12,000 free-range laying hens, managed by Stonegate, egg suppliers to Waitrose.
The Estate has a herd of over 600 beef cattle, mainly Aberdeen Angus crosses. During the summer, the cattle graze the extensive water meadows and chalk grassland, contributing to biodiversity enhancement above and below ground level. The livestock also graze the herbal leys within the 12-course arable rotation, contributing to nutrient cycling and the build-up of soil organic matter - a critical element of regenerative agriculture. Whilst the Estate no longer has a dairy herd, it still retains a Processing Dairy, taking in organic cows' milk and conventional goats' milk from other selected farms, pasteurising and bottling it for sale through Waitrose.
Leckford Farm follows Integrated Farm Management principles, as incorporated within a Regenerative Agriculture approach to producing a wide range of crops.
The Estate employs 160 ‘Partners’ many of whom live on or nearby to the Estate and who contribute to the local economy as well as to the local communities. The Estate donates to charities through a number of approaches, including the Waitrose ‘Community Matters’ scheme. The Estate takes part in the LEAF-organised Open Farm Sunday event each June.
The Leckford Estate has a long tradition of care and respect for wildlife and conservation. It has a wealth of varied habitats including the River Test, water meadows, ancient grass downland and woodland, with many SSSIs and a substantial Environmental Stewardship Agreement. Over recent years there has been extensive work done on woodland management, hedge-planting, grassland regeneration and much else. In addition, the Estate has a small retail nursery noted for its National Collections of Buddleja and Clematis viticella selling quality plants to the public.
The farm is hosting field trials for the Small Robot Company and is a host site for Bayer Cropscience small plot trials. They also host postgraduate projects looking at aspects of habitat management, e.g. the impact of land management on bats, and on bees and other pollinators. Andrew is also in the Test to Winchester cluster group, comprising 30-35,000 acres.
If you are interested in visiting this LEAF Demonstration Farm, then please contact [email protected]. Thank you.