Job opportunity: Farmer/s – Lower Farm, Dorset

Jan 31, 2023

An opportunity to establish a mixed, regenerative smallholding in an active, vibrant community.

Opportunity

Chettle Estate in North Dorset is looking for an enthusiastic and pioneering farmer (or farmers) to take on this smallholding. We are looking for someone who has a passion for regenerative and mixed farming. Someone who puts biodiversity, nutrition and resilience above yield.

Around 60 acres, near the centre of the village, has been left fallow since early 2020 when the intensive dairy farm ended. This was a great relief to the village and Alice, Chettle’s current custodian. And now, after 3 years of growing small mammals and insects in the tufty grass, the fields are ready to be managed by animals and humans again.

The amazing bonus you get with this opportunity is that you have a ready-made market right on your barn-step… Chettle might be a small village, with only 100 residents, but it has a very busy village shop. Revenue increased during Covid but unlike other village or farm shops, when people went ‘back to normal’ Chettle’s shop sales continued to grow. Yet a very small percentage of what is sold in the shop comes from our land, and this needs to change.

We are looking for someone who wants to farm more than one or two things and they must be passionate about nature and the environment. It is a wonderful chance for someone to live in a vibrant community whilst producing nutrient dense food for the village outlets and local communities and to help increase biodiversity across the landscape.

Background

Chettle Estate, situated on the Cranborne Chase in North Dorset, is around 850 acres of arable and pasture land, including 60 acres of woodland.

The current custodian, Alice, is the third woman to be at the helm of this quirky village. She is not a typical estate owner, and with a background in festivals in London, she brings a new angle to managing a village. Her mother and grandmother were also slightly renegade, both with a different slant on how to run a village on a shoestring budget and with the thought that lining their pockets was important, firmly at the back of their minds.

When her mother died in 2017 Alice decided to come up with her vision for the village she was born and raised in. After several years of reading, research and farm visits, she has written a long-term plan for the land and the estate and any new additions must be aligned with it. This vision statement will be shared with shortlisted applicants.

You can get a feel for Chettle by scrolling through our Instagram page @chettlevillage

Chettle Village Store

Chettle’s shop is a genius mix of local, organic, whole food and standard. You can come in for one of the popular hot pies and you could pick up some organic fruit and veg to accompany it, or a Mars bar and a can of Coke. It caters for everyone and you can do your full weekly shop here as they sell everything. The shop is also owned by the estate and it would be great to see Chettle produce for sale here.

Land

The land available extends to around 60 acres. It is Grade 3 with free draining, shallow lime rich soils over chalk. The fields are arranged in 6 parcels ranging from 3 acres to 22 acres, all within a short distance of the farm buildings. The acreage is mainly permanent pasture and is in need of recovery, following over-intensive use in the recent past. It has now had a period of 3 years of rest with occasional grazing. The fields are largely enclosed by mature hedges and the farm has over 1km of newly planted hedges, but associated fencing and gates require repair in some places and re-instating in others. There is water via a working well (and pump) and when this dries out in a hot summer, there is a metered mains system. Water pipes will need to be reinstated across some fields.

Buildings

There is a large farm yard at the centre of the fields and barns will be available for use by this

enterprise. The buildings and yards require some amendments which can be planned in conjunction with the successful applicant. The buildings are served by mains electricity.

Accommodation

The estate includes all of the houses and cottages in the village so it will be possible to provide accommodation close to the farm depending on the requirements of the successful applicant.

Farming Agreement

We are open to discussion about the type of tenancy or agreement through which this enterprise and set up is run. There are many different options available to us.

Application

Please register your interest by emailing alice@chettleestate.com

[Photo credit: Instagram @chettlevillage]

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