Hockley Meadows Farm

Hockley Farm, artists impression by Dan Powell

Hockley Meadows Farm - Nestled in the heart of the Itchen valley, a site that has become an integral part of how we manage reserves, benefitting wildlife right across southern Hampshire. Thanks to you!

In the spring of 2017, thanks to your generosity and with the help of a gift left to the Trust in the Will of Winchester resident Miss Patricia James we were able to buy Hockley Meadows Farm.  Nestled in the heart of the Itchen valley, the site has become an integral part of how we manage reserves, benefitting wildlife right across southern Hampshire.

When we launched the appeal, we were looking for £200,000 and we thought it might be a bit of an ask. The site wasn’t a nature reserve, it wasn’t even going to be publically accessible to the supporters who were helping us buy it. But the legacy gift gave us the confidence to put in an offer on the farm and start the purchase. This combined with your support, passion and shared vision to protect this amazing space resulted in us exceeding the target by more than £50,000.

Today the farm is an essential part of the Trust and Jack Norris, farm manager and head of the grazing team gave us an update on the farm as it is today.

Entrance to Hockley Meadows Farm

Wildlife Highlights:

The river Itchen runs down one side of the farm as a result kingfisher and heron are regularly seen.

Barn owls, rather appropriately, use the barn and although we haven’t seen any signs of nesting in the box we installed not long after we bought the site, we remain hopeful that one day it will be occupied.

Cows in the barn at Hockley Meadows Farm

The farm itself:

The site is managed sensitively to ensure that both livestock and wildlife have the space to thrive. The cattle themselves provide opportunities, attracting flies, beetles and other invertebrates which in turn bring in swallows by day and bats by night, to take advantage of the bounty. We worm our cattle with a product that does not persist in the dung, turning each cowpat into a microcosm of life for all the creatures that depend on manure.

How has the farm changed since we got it?

The farm was well managed by the previous owner so other than replacing some fences and making a few improvements to the barn (including installing the barn owl box) the site itself simply continues to be a beneficial space for local wildlife; another parcel of land protected and managed with wildlife in mind.

What has dramatically changed since 2017 is how it has enabled us to work on our other nature reserves. Hockley Meadows Farm is used as a hub for our conservation grazing animals, which means we are able to be much more flexible and proactive with our conservation grazing on our nature reserves across southern Hampshire. The Trust’s livestock and reserves managers work hand in hand to adapt and improve grazing for wildlife. This leads to even better management and protection for sites like St Catherine’s Hill, Broughton Down, Noar Hill and Winnall Moors.

We can also ensure that animals that might need a bit of extra care, for example cows close to calving, now have somewhere quiet to go, where we can keep an eye on them.

Downland sites

St Catherine’s Hill © Lianne de Mello, Broughton Down © Mike Read, Winnall Moors ©Steve Page

We want to say thank you once again to everyone who donated to our Hockley Farm appeal back in 2017, and to Miss Patricia James for her kind legacy gift. With your support we are able to make a real difference for local wildlife.