The Farm

Friars Court is a working farm comprising of 630 acres. 440 acres is arable whilst 130 acres are grassland used to make low-input hay and silage as well as providing grazing for the small herd of beef cows. The remaining land is woodland where trees are grown for wildlife habitats and timber or willow which is grown to be harvested before chipped and used as a biofuel. Alternative forms of agroforestry are also practiced with a 3-acre riverside wood, planted with cricket bat willow trees, which is also used a seasonal caravan site.

The arable land is contract farmed by a neighbour who has the machinery to cultivate and harvest the fields quickly and efficiently. The crops grown normally comprise of wheat, barley, and oilseed rape.

Several conservation practices are in operation on the farm and these include 40 acres of water meadows and an 11-acre wildflower meadow. 6 metre grass headlands also surround many fields to create natural corridors for wildlife and attract a wide variety of plants, birds, insects, and animals. There have been sightings of lapwings and curlew and there is a marked increase in skylarks. There have been reports of otters down by the River Thames and red kites and buzzards are frequently seen.

The farm also has a 5-acre wetland habitat which incorporates a small lake. This attracts a variety of waterfowl from ducks, geese, and pairs of nesting swans.

The farm generates its own electricity, nearly 45 kW, using three banks of photovoltaic solar panels. Just outside the gardens beyond the Moat Ponds are two ground-mounted arrays; the smaller 4.5 kW system was installed in 2004 whilst a 9.8 kW system was installed in 2011. A much larger third array was installed in 2015 on the roof of the large cow shed and can generate up to 30 kW.

The panels generate power even on an overcast day and the house and farm are often self-sufficient for its daytime electricity requirements with any surplus sold back to the national grid.