G K Benford & Co have been trading at Down Farm since 1895, the business currently being run by the fourth generation. Down Farm is a traditional mixed farm of about 160 hectares, on open downland 120 metres above sea level, in the north-east of Hampshire close to Alton, Basingstoke and Reading.
We produce crops such as wheat, barley and oilseed rape, as well as holding beef and sheep. These products are normally sold to the trade.
Surplus by-products such as hay and straw are sold on a retail basis, and we are one of the few producers in this area of ‘conventional’ bales.
Since 2002 we have operated a green waste recycling operation, providing a service to local landscape contractors and tree surgeons, and producing compost for use on the farm, where it replaces some of the inorganic fertiliser needed to grow crops. By-products of this operation are firewood logs, which we deliver locally, and biomass woodchip which is burnt in biomass boilers for heating and/or power generation.
At Down Farm, we buy Angus cross reared calves at about 3-4 months old, which are typically kept for two winters (housed) and one summer (at grass). By this time they are finished and sold to the trade.
We also have a small flock of breeding ewes.
Under the Farm Woodland Scheme we have established 7 hectares of native woodland on land which was previously growing arable crops. There is permissive public access to this area which can be accessed off Ford Lane.
We’ve gapped up and reinstated the original hedgerows on the farm. To manage these, we trim them two years out of three after the birds have fledged. We allow the hedges to grow by about 10cm a year and eventually coppice them for woodchip.
We participate in the wider country butterfly survey, which indicates we have around 8 species of butterfly and 3 species of moths.