Working in harmony with nature, our environmental values

Paley Farm prides itself on a sustainable approach to farming

A partnership with the plants and animals that surround us

Paley Farm prides itself on a sustainable approach to farming and views the farm in its entirety as its responsibility to enhance and improve. By managing the woodlands to caring for the native wildlife, we aim to allow the diversity of the local wildlife and fauna to thrive.

This all goes towards benefitting the livestock that we raise, ending up with happy and healthy animals that supply our customers with a premium product.

The Woodlands

We have nearly 100 acres of mixed woodland, managed in two different ways, but achieving the same environmental benefits. If a woodland is broken down to its component parts, it is teeming with a rich biodiversity. Woodlands are enormously complex structures supporting thousands of different invertebrates, fungi and bacteria, all of which are vital for the recycling of dead material into nutrient-rich soil.

Woodland requires management in order to flourish and diversity is encouraged through light and the different areas that can be created. Allowing different light levels within a woodland creates different microhabitats and causes different species of plant and animal to benefit and thrive.

Traditional Woodland management

There are two types of woodland: mixed broadleaf and chestnut coppice. The broadleaf, containing trees such as oak, beech, hornbeam and ash, is managed to produce firewood which is used in Paley’s biomass boiler, and to improve biodiversity. The coppice is managed to produce chestnut for the farm’s fencing.

Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management. Stems are cut back down to ground level creating a stump (stool), which regrows and creates a sustainable supply of timber. Plus, there are added benefits in terms of biodiversity. Different areas (cants) are cut each year, creating areas of light and thus different species thrive. Many of these species are food for butterflies and other insects.

The fields and hedgerows of Paley Farm

Along with our woodlands, our fields and hedgerows are part of the Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier scheme, which aims to create a cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy, on a national level. As custodians of the farm, enhancing the wildlife and improving the natural habitat are key principles in our sustainable farming practices.

Paley Farm’s 15 kilometres of hedgerows are maintained by leaving two thirds of the hedge untrimmed each year. This strategy aims to increase the blossom for invertebrates, provide food for over-wintering birds by allowing fruit and berries to ripen, and improve the structure and longevity of the hedgerows.

Evidence of Paley’s past as a thriving fruit farm are still evident today, with 20 acres of traditional fruit trees situated in our grassland fields providing shelter for our livestock. These cider apple and plum trees still supply plentiful fruit for wildlife, but also form the perfect habitat for invertebrates who live among the trees and the standing deadwood that remains in situ.

Our areas of permanent pasture are managed to encourage flowering grasses and wildflowers. Maintaining a variety of grass heights throughout the summer months increases the habitat and food for our birds and other native small animals. Leaving a higher grass sward also improves water retention and prevents soil erosion.

The owls at Paley Farm

There are three species of owl on the farm (barn, little and tawny), so it is important that enough hunting ground is provided for them to thrive. Tawny owls are woodland hunters, barn owls patrol the longer grass in search of mice, voles and shrew, while little owls prefer insects. The barn owls have lived at the farm for more than 40 years, taking up residency in the vacant dovecote built into the top of the traditional oast house.

Nature's little wonder

Bees. These wonderful little creatures do not get the praise they deserve. They are fantastically hard-working, resilient creatures that are vital to the environment and agriculture. Without them, we would be nothing. There are five hives located across the farm helping to pollinate the many wildflowers, orchards and crops within the Kent countryside. The honey produced is second-to-none and what started as a hobby has quickly developed into a passion.

The rivers, streams and ponds of Paley Farm

There are several waterways and many ponds located across the farm. We actively manage these to assist the wildlife that lives within them, and also have new pond creation projects on the go. We are working alongside Kent County Council as some ponds are involved with the conservation of the great crested newt. Plus, we are lucky enough to have kingfishers, herons and kestrels. These diverse ecosystems increase the range of flora and fauna on the farm.