Beechenhill Farm OS grid ref: SK 129 525
The 37-hectare organic dairy farm of Beechenhill is situated at the southern end of the limestone plateau of the Peak District. It lies at 300 metres (1000 feet) above sea level and has a southern aspect. The farm is one mile north of the picturesque village of Ilam (population 90), 6 miles north of the small market town of Ashbourne, 16 miles from Derby, 18 miles from Stoke-on-Trent and 25 miles south of Manchester.
Beechenhill lies on the south face of the hill between the Dovedale gorge and the Manifold Valley, the confluence of the River Dove and the River Manifold lies 2 miles south of the farm. The river valleys are deeply incised into Carboniferous Mountain Limestone. The Dove, forming the county boundary between Staffordshire and Derbyshire, tumbles through a narrow, steep sided valley with precipitous rock faces and steep wooded and grassy slopes. West of the Dove, the Manifold Valley is wider with undulating slopes descending from about 300m to 150m forming a dale 0.2km across.
The soil type is good neutral/acid loam on limestone, light with a tendency to drought. Rainfall is 1016-1270mm per annum. Climate is frost free from April to October. All field boundaries are traditional dry stone walls common to the area. The farm has no natural water source other than two rainwater reservoirs (a tank and a mere, both built in early 1900s) and an intermittent spring in a lower field.
The farm is in the administrative area of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, in the Peak District National Park and in a Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) designated Less Favoured Area. It also lies within some of the areas designated by Europe for diversification grant aid: Objective 5b, Leader II and Leader +.
Inputs & Outputs chart
Outputs Up to 2001 some sheep, calves and cows were sold through agricultural markets at Uttoxeter (13 miles) and Bakewell (16 miles). Other animals are sold to neighbours for rearing. At present wool is sold through the British Wool Board. Organic lambs are sold to friends and visitors to Beechenhill Farm and through the internet. The organic milk is sold through Organic Milk Suppliers Company (OMSCO). Although OMSCO is based in Devon, milk from Beechenhill goes to other companies for example, Organic Matters, Knutsford, Cheshire.
Inputs Organic cow food is bought from a H J Lea Oakes Ltd a feed mill at Congleton. Straw is delivered regularly and comes from lowland arable areas. Dairy consumables, artificial insemination, homoeopathic medicines and vet services are all accessed locally. Clover seed, fuel and electricity are purchased from national companies.
Distribution of Visitors to Beechenhill
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