Holkham has a total of 22 tenanted farms, made up of approximately 6,100 hectares, plus 1850 hectares that is farmed ‘in-hand’ by the Holkham Farming Company.
The in-hand land is generally farmed on a rotation based around sugar beet and barley.
Wheat is grown on the better land along with break crops such as beans, peas and potatoes. The livestock enterprises consist of a herd of 190 suckler beef cattle and a flock of 100 sheep. All progeny from the suckler herd are fattened and butchered locally. The meat can often be found on the menu at the estate-owned Victoria Inn.
The Farming Company has a formal conservation policy, which is operated over all its farms. As part of the Common Agricultural Policy agri-environmental measures, the estate is engaged on an enterprise to revert arable land to grassland within the deer park.
There are 827 hectares of woodland on the estate, which are managed for amenity, shooting and commercial forestry, under the guiding principle of sustainability. A team of foresters carry out all maintenance, planting, weeding and thinning.
Traditionally, agriculture and farm rentals have supported the estate and the maintenance of the Hall and other properties. However, with costs of such maintenance increasing and the decline in farming profits, this is no longer the case. The estate has diversified and, over the past 10 years, has adopted the policy of running its own businesses in-house, rather than renting out premises for others to do so. For example, Pinewoods Holiday Park near Wells-next-the-Sea, which had been let to North Norfolk District Council for 60 years from 1926, is now run by the estate and employs 25 people during the summer. Additionally, there is a café and a gift shop in Holkham park.
The management of land and property is the estate’s main activity and it is working on a planning and development strategy which aims to find viable options for the reuse of redundant farm buildings. The estate owns and maintains more than 300 houses, which are let to people who live and work locally. In 2000, the estate built six almshouses in the nearby village of Burnham Market, which are now occupied by retired estate employees. The estate runs its own maintenance and property development companies, which are involved both in complex refurbishment projects on the hall and essential repair and maintenance work on the estate cottages.
“Holkham has a proud tradition of looking after the land, its wildlife, its property and its employees, which Holkham is keen to uphold and develop for the future.”