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Sandfield Farm

The Higher Level Environmental Stewardship scheme.

Sandfield farm in Sedgeberrow has been farmed by five generations of the Holyfield family. Emma Harrison (nee Holyfield), who now farms it with her husband Robert is that fifth generation. Mike and Jane Holyfield handed over that responsibility to them in1995. They also farm in the Cotswolds with around 220 dairy cows. The calves, heifers and dry cows are raised at Sandfield. Alongside these tasks Emma oversees all the work of a Higher Level Environmental Stewardship (HLS) scheme, which she began in 2009.

Sandfield farm is a busy place apart from cow care. Under HLS Emma has opted for educational access which means that Sandfield is an ‘open farm’. Emma hosts visits for 50 groups a year. All the classes from our local Sedgeberrow First School are regular and enthusiastic visitors and the Teachers incorporate many aspects of the children’s experience on the farm into the school’s curriculum.

There is a small classroom with toilets sustained by a water-saving system, electricity and hot water garnered from a combination of solar panels and a small domestic-size wind turbine.

HLS has created a variety of areas of interest on the farm. The most popular with visiting school children is the recently dug out pond with a viewing and dipping platform. Much replanting has taken place on the farm. Two orchards planted in the 1920’s have been restocked using varieties traditional to the area. New boundaries have been created on the farm which has meant that many hedge plants have been planted. One new boundary is the Saxon Saltway which is runs along a bridleway and new permissive access path.

The old Saltway, dating from Saxon and possibly Roman times, crosses the farm. It was the old route for transporting Droitwich natural brine into Gloucestershire and no doubt beyond. The Way is mentioned in Witts’ handbook of Gloucestershire – British and Roman roads. He says. “This road is very difficult to trace though Gloucestershire, except from Sedgebarrow to Tewkesbury.” Sedgeberrow was not only in Gloucestershire at the time of his writing but was known as Sedgebarrow.

The Saltway is uncultivated and acts as a wildlife corridor. Wildlife areas have been created across the farm including a pollen nectar mix area, beetle bank, ‘buffer zone’ (large uncultivated area around the pond) as well as overwintered stubble and summer fallow.

Background Information

Environmental Stewardship (ES): An agri-environment scheme which offers payments to farmers and land managers in England for effective land management to protect and enhance the environment and wildlife. The scheme is delivered for theDepartment for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) by Natural England and forms part of the Rural Development Programme for England (2007-2013). It builds on the successes of previous agri-environment schemes, the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Environmentally Sensitive Areas.

The scheme’s primary objectives are to:

    • Conserve wildlife (biodiversity)
    • Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
    • Protect the historic environment
    • Protect natural resources (water and soil)
    • Promote public access and understanding of the countryside.

There are also secondary objectives for genetic conservation (rare breeds), flood risk management, and an overarching objective to contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS)

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) is an environmentally targeted, competitive scheme with 10-year tailored agreements of high environmental value involving complex and specialised land management. In addition to objectives for biodiversity, landscape, historic features and resource protection, HLS offers opportunities for access to the countryside and organised educational visits to farms for schools and special interest groups. HLS agreements are usually underpinned by ELS (Entry Level Stewardship), OELS(Organic Entry Level Stewardship)or Uplands ELS.


DEFRA: Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs

Archeological Handbook of the County of Gloucester by George Witts – published 1883*/Roads.html

Permissive Access


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