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As part of its company commitments, Charles Martell & Son Ltd recognises its obligations to comply with the law and to carry out its business in an environmentally sound manner. This policy is part of our commitment to minimising the impact of our activities on the environment to as low a level as is practically and economically feasible, while promoting sustainability. This policy will be reviewed annually or after any major changes to the business. Updates to the policy can be found here.
Laurel Farm was purchased in 1972 with the broad of aim of pursuing an ‘environmental conservation’ agenda. It reverted to its original name of Hunts Court in 2006.
The Old Gloucesterfrom extinction.
A successful meeting to re-establish the Gloucester Cattle Society was called. Today the breed numbers about 500 (700+ 2012) breeding females from a low of total of 68 head at the Society’s re-formation in 1972. A low environmental impact cheese dairy producing Double and Single Gloucester cheese established at Hunts Court created ongoing media interest in the breed and hopefully encouraged more people to maintain a herd of this breed using a low input/output system.
A small herd of pedigree Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs was established which recycles whey from the cheese dairy back to the pastures. Exchange of boars has been arranged with other local breeders, to ensure the establishment of a strong gene pool.
Comprehensive documentary works have now been published about Perry Pears, Gloucestershire Apples and Plums, the former being published in 2012.
An extensive survey (1989-2011) has been completed to document all known perry pear cultivars, which has resulted in over 120 varieties being located, grafted and established as a national gene bank. Many of these varieties are now growing in the orchards at Hunts Court where, as well as being a supplementary genetic resource, also restores a prominent indigenous landscape feature of the district. Amongst the many 'lost' varieties of perry pear was the 'Dymock Red' which after prolonged searching was finally located as one old tree. Graftwood was taken and the variety is now re-established in some numbers in its native village. Sustainability has been increased with the fruit being harvested for the 2010 and 2011 seasons and the fruit fermented and distilled in the restored distillery building — see 2011 update.
Pears of Gloucestershire can be downloaded from the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust website
A similar survey to the above has been carried out on Gloucestershire apples and 106 indigenous varieties have been documented, located, grafted and established as the 'Gloucestershire Apple Collection' at Hunts Court. This collection is now approved and monitored by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG). Graftwood from these varieties is distributed to interested groups and individuals resulting in the establishment of further traditional orchards in the county.
The declining traditional standard orchard is now the rarest habitat type in Britain so a small contribution towards a reversal of this trend is taking place at Hunts Court where about 15 of its 30 acres has been re-established as traditional widely spaced standard orchard for which the parish of Dymock was once recognised nationally.
Native Apples of Gloucestershire can be downloaded from the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust website
Similarly 17 varieties of native Gloucestershire plum have been documented. 15 of these have been located, grafted and are in the process of being established as a national collection at Hunts Court to provide a source of grafting material for interested groups or individuals to re-establish their native local varieties in the county. These orchards will form ideal habitat for the rare Noble Chafer beetle and many other invertebrates. They will also form a source of tasty fruit for dessert and cooking.
Native Plums of Gloucestershire can be downloaded from the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust website
2 native varieties have been documented — the ubiquitous Contorted Hazel and the Excelsior of Taynton Walnut which was thought to be extinct, see 2012 update.
This rare variety has been documented and is now grown at Hunts Court.
Birds: 87 species of bird have been recorded at Hunts Court. Most recently in July 2010 a Golden Oriole. By increasing hedgerows by about 50% and providing new ponds there has been an unquantified increase in breeding birds. Most notably of Tufted Duck and Little Grebe.
Plantlife: The plantlife of Hunts Court has been professionally surveyed and there are over 100 species on the farm. These are cared for under a stewardship agreement. The farm is noted for its wild Daffodils and a recent discovery of a small colony of Meadow Saffron. Every effort is made to enhance the breeding potential of these species by managing livestock access and farm yard manure application.
We live and work on the farm so the two styles are inextricably linked.
In the workplace we are committed to keeping our energy requirements to a minimum. The farm house underwent a ‘refit’ which was completed in 2006. It included insulation throughout, underfloor heating and ground source heat pump. The dairy was re-built in 2007 and includes a highly efficient HDG wood burning boiler which heats the dairy by underfloor heating, heats the milk up to nearly 40° centigrade and provides hot water for washing and staff showers. Also included are large solar panels on the roof. Wood fuel in the form of split logs are either from the farm, or, the greater part is brought from about 2 miles away and is cut up and stored on the farm.
On the farm environmental damage is limited by having no tractor in order to save unnecessary tractor hours. Agricultural contractors are used for specific tasks. The use of animal traction (ox, cow, horse and donkey) have been researched and are used whenever possible for light tasks.
Staff well-being is considered important. A staff gymnasium has been fitted. It is company policy that no member of staff may sit down at his or her task for more than 4 hours in a working day. All staff are encouraged to take an interest in all aspects of the farming business as a way of enhancing their working day.
The Martell family make every effort to keep long haul flying to a minimum. Living in a rural area, the over use of the motor car is a constant challenge. We haven’t found our solution.