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In your field: James and Isobel Wright - 'As a local councillor, affordable rural housing is a major concern'

Finally, the rain has come. We’ve had over a 100mm in a fortnight and the fertiliser we spread last month has kicked in and the grass has responded.

We’ll be cutting in early June now and this whole cut will be enough to see us through all of next winter. We have also picked up 16 hectares (40 acres) of hay ground from a local farmer, so we are going to be well stocked this winter and the fodder we sell will fund more cattle.

 

With so much grass about, we’ve bought more stores. A great bunch of Angus’ that were born summer last year and have spent some time in a shed since weaning. They will graze well and we’ll send them onto a Breedr finisher contract this autumn.

 

Instead of looking for store cattle next spring, we’re going to buy 50 weaned calves in September which we’ll then turn out in the summer. Our sheds are going to be packed but we have got to make our relatively expensive yard pay for itself.

 

As well as the farm, I am privileged to be a councillor at Horsham District Council. We are in the middle of setting our 15-year housing strategy.


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Top of my agenda, as well as ensuring we put the big developments in the right place, is making sure that there are sufficient policies to promote rural housing.

 

We are seeing a gentrification of the countryside in West Sussex, as we are only an hour by train to the centre of London. Many rural and agricultural workers are being priced out of the market and are then forced in move into flats in our towns.

 

Isobel and I are faced with this decision at the moment as we look for somewhere else more toddler-friendly to live. We need to ensure that there is sufficient rural housing stock aimed at those who are working in the community, otherwise the countryside will become a rich persons’ playground.

 

Last month I wrote about the trials and tribulations of our tractor. Incredibly, about a day later we found out we had won a place on Up to Speed programme supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund and New Holland.

 

For this we’re being sent a brand new telehandler to use for the next 12 months. This will allow us to move away from using contractors and mean we can do more of our own farm work. It is incredibly generous of New Holland to support us.

 

Our landlord is coming for a walk around this week and the topic of the meeting is titled ’The Future’, which could be incredibly good or a bit of a worry. No doubt more on that next month.

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