Castle Farm is busy 1,100 acre farm that has been in the Alexander family for over a century. The farm has crops of wheat, barley, rapeseed, hops, apples, lavender and a large herd of beef cattle.
William Alexander and his farming team, are dedicated to running a farm of successful agricultural production, integrated with wildlife and environmental protection. You can follow Wiliam’s seasonal Farming Notes on activity at Castle Farm in our Newsletters and on our News pages.
We have always recognised and appreciated the exceptional quality of the landscape in which we farm and one of the guiding principles of our business development has been a determination to maintain and enhance the agricultural character of the beautiful Darenth Valley, which is located within the North Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Active conservation has long been an integral part of our farming with regular hedge maintenance, woodland management and tree planting taking place each year. The farm devotes 10% of its area to be managed with wildlife and the environment having priority over food production.
We participate in government-supported Stewardship Schemes that enable us to maintain grass field edges (to provide extra habitat for flowers and mammals), pollen and nectar areas (that support bees and insects), summer fallow fields (to favour ground-nesting birds), and a programme of old hedge restoration work.
High welfare for our livestock is a priority. Our calves enjoy their first months of life with their mother, then as far as is possible, are kept within small family groups. During the summer they graze the water meadows and hill pastures and in winter are housed in our superb new purpose-built Roundhouse, designed specifically to provide an airy, comfortable, stress-free environment for cattle to live in. Here they are fed home-grown maize and clover-rich grass silage. David, our experienced stockman, ensures the well-being and health of all individual animals on a daily basis.
The farm is well-endowed with both traditional and modern buildings, ranging from a fine timber-framed Kent threshing barn to a state of the art grainstore and drying facility. New agricultural buildings or conversions of redundant properties are undertaken with maximum attention to detail, to ensure their design compliments the surroundings, whilst providing up-to-date functionality. Our grainstore (a large, purpose-built structure) and The Hop Shop (an old wood-framed cattle building reconstructed from a farm in Sussex) have both won design awards. The Roundhouse cattle building is itself an award-winning design.
Packaging is re-used on-farm whenever possible. Surplus cardboard, batteries, plastics, paper, metals and oils are all segregated into different waste streams, then recycled.
Clover is currently being introduced into all our grass pastures to reduce the requirement to apply artificial nitrogen. All manures are spread back onto our land to raise soil fertility. Fuel efficiency has been improved by using minimal cultivation techniques. These save energy by negating the need for deep ploughing every year.