Trafford Farm update September 2019

It is now two years since the Society gained possession of the late Sheila Trafford’s farm at Carlton le Moorland.

The farm has been cropped by contractors under the management of Mike Johnson of J H Walter, this is now ending with the completion of cereal harvest, leaving potatoes and maize to finish this transitional era. We are delighted to announce that the farm has been let to a 35-year-old local farmer John Hollis. This based on his progressive approach to farming the land for the long-term benefits of the soil and interest in supporting the Charity’s objectives. Trustees who visited John Hollis’ farm were particularly interested to see the progress of the soil structure under his farming system. He has adopted a No-till regime on the family farm, which he took over from his father Roger over 10 years ago. The conversion to a No-till policy was John’s decision, and “not necessarily the way I would have done it” commented Roger. A lot of compost has been imported on the Hollis farm, a growing trend for the sustainability and improvement of soils on farms.

The farmer trustees who interviewed John Hollis; Steve Ward and Andrew Buckley, were impressed by what they saw; “There is much to learn from John’s farming technique. We are delighted he is willing to share his experiences with members of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, as the farm will be open for a visit once a year”.

A total of 19 tenders were received, including 7 from first time farmers, all of whom had existing contact within the industry: “The range of tenders was very wide and particularly interesting” noted Mike Johnson of JH Walter. “Not surprisingly, those who could afford the least were those with no existing farming enterprise or equipment”. None of the serious applicants were interested in the use of the farm buildings or the house.

Not only was John chosen because of his sustainable and innovative farming system, but also because his system allowed him to offer a commercial rent, which will be applied by the Charity to support its important educational work that aligns perfectly with Miss Trafford’s wish that her bequest be used for the ‘support and education of young people in agriculture’.

“So, a double win for the charity”. commented Jane Hiles, Chairman of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society. “Education to support food production and the environment is at the heart of our Charity’s work today and into the future” she said. “the Charity are delighted to work with such a progressive young farmer as John Hollis; and the income from the rent will enable us to further extend our innovative education programme”.

We have active discussions in progress with local councillors and planners, for the possible development of domestic dwellings on the now redundant farmyard at Carlton, various options are being appraised and we will keep you informed as progress occurs.

The original tenant in the Corner Farmhouse left during the farm letting process, we are pleased to have new tenants installed, Mr & Mrs Cal Brown with their daughter and wish them well in their occupation of what is a lovely home.

Three young Lincolnshire applicants have been awarded grants to attend the Worshipful Company of Farmers ABCAM and Challenge of Rural Leadership courses at the RAU, Cirencester in November year (Carolyn Coxe, Patrick Tomlinson and Dan Liddell) they will present their experiences to us next year. Also, a second LAS Trafford Fund Scholarship has been awarded to Alex Olivant, a member of the LAS Impact Group will attend the 2020 Oxford Farming Conference next January and will be invited to share her experience with us in the New Year. We would like to congratulate them all for representing Lincolnshire at these events.

We are giving the opportunity for up to 8 members of the Impact Group to attend the Nuffield Scholars winter conference at Kenilworth (Warwickshire) on 28-29th November 2019.The Nuffield foundation are running a conference in November, on the opportunities for applicants to join the Nuffield Scholarship programme, we are prepared to fund a number of Impact Group applicants to enable them to find out all about Nuffield. Please contact Steve Ward