The High Weald is a working landscape, with a rich farming history stretching back to the neolithic period. Livestock grazing over many generations has helped shape the area into the beautiful and much-loved landscape we know today.
Like other places in England, the High Weald is ideally suited to livestock farming as our soils grow excellent grass. Well-managed livestock systems that follow sustainable and regenerative farming principles have many benefits, including:
- Improving the health of the soil and restoring the natural fertility of the land
- Improving the soil’s capacity to capture and store carbon
- Producing nutrient-rich, high-welfare meat with low food miles
- Providing local jobs.
Uncertainty due to Brexit, the scarcity of grain due to the war in Ukraine, severe drought and rising energy and fuel prices have taken a toll on farmers here in the High Weald. Farms in this area also tend to be smaller than in other parts of the country (5-20 hectares on average), which brings its own set of challenges.
The closure of Tottingworth Abbatoir, a longstanding family business which around 900 farmers across Kent, Sussex, and Surrey rely on for the viability and success of their livelihoods is another challenge. Small abattoirs like Tottingworth are an absolute lifeline for our farmers yet they face a wide range of challenges and extra costs.
The closure of Tottingworth will mean a huge increase in food miles for high-quality and protein-rich meat which would otherwise have been prepared locally – leading to more vehicles on the roads and higher prices for shoppers.
If you wish to show your support for farmers in the High Weald AONB, you can:
- Buy local produce wherever you can
- Write to your MP and ask them to support policy that helps farmers in the High Weald AONB
- Sign up to our eNews to learn more about our conservation work with farmers.
Click here to read our letter, sent to each MP whose constituency covers part of the AONB: pdf Letter to MPs in support of High Weald farmers (813 KB) .
South East Farmer article
More about our work with farmers:
Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme