Approximately 80% of estate farmland is let to tenant farmers across 20 different holdings. Whilst these vary in size and type of farmland there is an underlying ethos for all farmers to be farming in accordance with sustainable farming practices. This is partly reflected by 95% of all tenant farmers actively engaged in countryside stewardship agreements designed at protecting and enhancing the Estates natural capital assets (soil, water, hedgerows for example). There is regular dialogue and active engagement with the farming tenants on all land management matters to ensure a close working partnership.
There is also an element of Estate land utilised for community groups providing allotments for local residents, access provisions for local schools, forest school activities, permissive access and sports and leisure facilities such as the two cricket clubs both situated in Instow and Westleigh respectively.
In Hand Farming
Christie Farms is the in-hand farming operation of the Christie Devon Estate which extends over two Estate locations; Raddy Farm near Instow and over Braunton Burrows. The 450 acre Raddy Farm (Instow) is under organic management regulated and audited by Organic Farmers and Growers association whilst Braunton Burrows (just under 2000 acres) is farmed under close guidance from Natural England to preserve and enhance the unique dunescape environment.
The main farming objectives over Raddy Farm is organic lamb production and innovative crop trailing such as hemp and different forage mixes to identify sustainable farming practices and potentially added value organic products. This is overseen by Will and Katy as contract shepherds who provide great enthusiasm for driving forwards various projects.
Farming on Braunton Burrows is very different and the aim is to work with a number of stakeholders to deliver on various environmental objectives to preserve and enhance the sand dune environment. Part of that role is through facilitating cattle grazing which has multiple benefits to the site but also provides a setting for cattle to roam and breed on the burrows all year round.
On both holdings there are active Countryside Stewardship agreements which contributes towards how the farm is managed. At Raddy farm this includes over 10 acres of wild bird seed mixes and 3 miles of field margins partly to support the organic status as well as working to build and preserve water and soil quality whilst having a positive impact on the environment.