Estate will help farmers target food sustainability

A tree is planted at the launch of the LEAF partnership at the Elveden Estate.    Galton Blackiston, owner of Morston Hall and Lord Iveagh are pictured.
A tree is planted at the launch of the LEAF partnership at the Elveden Estate. Galton Blackiston, owner of Morston Hall and Lord Iveagh are pictured.

On World Food Day, Elveden Farms became a flagship in the campaign for sustainable farming.

The organisation Linking Environment and Farming (Leaf) announced on Wednesday that the 22,500 acre estate had become its largest demonstration farm.

The organisation supports farmers to produce food ‘with care and to high environmental standards’ identified in store by its Leaf Marque logo. It has 40 demonstration farms across the country.

The great names of East Anglian farming joined conservationists and some of the estates best customers, from a Michelin-starred chef to the chip company McCain’s, to launch Elveden’s new status.

Leaf chairman Stephen Fell told them: “Striking the right balance is essential if farmers are to produce food in a way that is environmentally sustainable.”

Galton Blackiston, chef-owner of Norfolk’s Michelin-starred Morston Hall, said a restaurant is only as good as its suppliers and stressed the importance of local produce.

“Regionality, seasonality and cutting food miles are here to stay in cooking,” he predicted.

Lord Iveagh, whose family has owned Elveden Estate since 1894, said: “We have been working with Leaf for a number of years and we’re proud to do so.

“It’s been a relevant and important organisation in our world.”

Caroline Drummond, Leaf’s chief executive, said the organisation valued Elveden’s input as members.

She added: “We’re about linking the environment and farming. It’s where we farmers can contribute because we’re not only looking after food production but looking after the environment as well.

“Our demonstration farms are really important places to get farmer discussions and talk about challenges we have.”

She said the Leaf Marque indicated farmers who had ‘gone the extra mile’ to create a good environment’.

Elveden’s head of food wholesale Natasha Card said becoming a Leaf demonstration farm would be important to the business. “It gives us an extra mark of credibility,” she said.

Of Elveden Estate’s 22,500 acres, 15,000 are a site of special scientific interest, which includes 12,000 acres of its farmland.

Jim Rudderham, its conservation and woods manager, said this was partly due to how Lord Iveagh’s ancestors changed it from shooting to farming.

Only the best land became agricultural, leaving 14 heaths on which rare Breckland flora and fauna thrive.

“The way the estate was laid out with large fields in the 1920s and ‘30s has benefitted the stone curlews because they need large open spaces,” Jim said.

Elveden is one of few places in the world where nesting stone curlews are increasing.