Wildcroft Rare Breeds is run by husband and wife team, Graham and Tracey Longhurst.
Graham is Surrey born and bred and has been in and around farming and game keeping for most of his adult life. His main experience has been with cattle (both milking and meat herds), sheep and pigs. This together with stints in the building trade to hone his machine operating skills has made this venture a whole lot less scary!
Tracey on the other hand was born and brought up in the heart of Wiltshire. As soon as she was out of school in the afternoon she’d be helping local farmers with their milking herds. At the age of 21 she left the idyllic country life to travel and ended up in London where she trained as a lawyer and ended up working in HR for several large American Corporations.
In 2009 after looking for a couple of acres so Tracey could keep her horse at home, as luck would have it, they found Clear Barn Farm. It was slightly more acreage than planned, being a 55 acre holding in Puttenham, Surrey, but the opportunities were endless and so the story began.
After 6½ years the farm is going from strength to strength and both Graham and Tracey are now motivated to educate others as to why this way of life is still so important.
About the Farm and our Animals
When the farm was taken on it on was totally overgrown; the land not having been worked since 2001 and Succession was totally established.
To help clear the worst of the debris, nature’s natural rotavators (pigs!) were brought in to help. Rather than use commercial pigs, our passion for rare breeds surfaced and we now have small herds of Oxford Sandy & Blacks, Berkshires and Middle Whites.
A trip to the Chertsey show in 2011 introduced Sheep to the land. This was for two reasons, the first being that sheep grazing with horses helps with worm counts, so less chemicals are used and the second was great tasting lamb. The latter was the sole reason we bought in Welsh Mountain Badger Face sheep.
After a trip to the Alton Show back in 2012 and Tracey falling in love with the English Goats, two female kids and a goatling were purchased and brought home three weeks later. After seeing the amount of ring barking of trees they did, a new philosophy was embraced and the now not so small herd of goats (25 in total – please don’t ask!) are given free range in the really dense areas of scrubland before letting the pigs loose to dig up all the roots.
After six years, there is still a lot of scrub to clear and the team are doing their very best to help us with it all.
Whilst we have always farmed to organic principles ensuring that all our animals are fed on a GM free diet, we have steered away from ‘Organic’ farming purely due to the cost of the feed and processes that need to be followed in order to call yourself Organic. Since we have been introduced to Permaculture we are now on the unending vertical learning curve that is sustainable farming and whilst following all the ‘Organic’ principles, it feels a much less bureaucratic and simple way of farming. We now farm in line with nature rather than being dictated to – funnily enough the Soil Association do things in line with nature too, but in order to maintain your Organic status rules are imposed! Not being ones for rules we allow Mother Nature to dictate when things need to be done and we do this by watching the change in seasons, foliage and soil quality.