Brays Farm

52 acre Dairy Farm in Surrey

Brays Farm in Nutfield, just under an hour’s drive East of the CRT’s Pierrepont Farm, was granted to the CRT last Spring. This land was part of the estate gifted to the Trust by the late John Collett. John was passionate about sustainable farming and keen to encourage young new entrants into the industry. He and his wife Rosemary’s legacy also included land at Stoke Wake in Dorset.

We are delighted to welcome our new tenant farmers to Brays Farm, Matthew Elphick and his partner Betsie signed a tenancy agreement in October and have wonderful plans for the Farm.

Matt has worked in the farming industry for 14 years before he started to rent Brays Farm from John four years ago, initially farming a beef suckler herd and small flock of sheep.

Matt said: “Eighteen months ago, we turned Brays Farm into a small, traditional dairy with dairy shorthorn cattle. We have worked hard, installing a new milking parlour and processing room. Since I went to agricultural college I’ve been drawn to dairy farming; I find all aspects of it really interesting. We pasteurise and process the milk ourselves and sell it on two milk rounds and in local shops, under the brand Nutfield Dairy. We hope to start making yoghurt, butter and other products soon.”

Matt said they already use many nature-friendly methods on Brays Farm but hope to do even more to help wildlife, with the support of the CRT.

“We carry out a low-input style of farming” he added. “We’ve chosen dairy shorthorn cows because they are a good traditional breed that are hardy and will happily graze. You don’t have to grow lots of crops or feed them heavily for them to produce milk. We are going for quality rather than quantity, which means we don’t have to ask as much of our ground. We don’t put lots of fertiliser on the fields, we leave clumps of nettles here and there, and we minimise the cutting of hedges.

“We have a good population of swallows and little owls and kestrels on Brays Farm. We did have barn owls but a drought a couple of years ago hit them hard, so they haven’t nested since. We plan to plant more hedgerows, sow herbal leys and legumes to help pollinators and improve soil structure, and I would like to install nest boxes to encourage barn owls to settle on the farm again.”