The Estate and Our Herd
Forde Abbey stands at the the heart of a 1600 acre estate. Although small in comparison with many estate, it manages to include a wide variety of activities and does much to provide the best local produce to use in the house and the tearoom. The Kennard family are first and foremost stewards of the land that surrounds the Abbey and take their responsibility for it very seriously.
However, to visitors of the house, the most visible aspect of this activity is the herd of Ruby Red Devons belonging to Lisa Roper and established in 1981. Since that time Forde Abbey has become synonymous with high quality breeding and over the years the Forde Abbey Devons have enjoyed considerable success in the show ring, winning all of the major show prizes at least once as well as producing 10 breed champions.
The Goat Farm
Largely hidden from the public eye is the arable side of the business. Although in the past most of the harvest has been sold on the open market with only a little being used for the Devons, this is no longer the case. Now most of the grain is used on the estate for feed for the most recent agricultural venture: In a joint project with Tim and Will Frost of Childhay Manor, Forde Abbey is now home to 2,500 milking goats. They are milked three times a day and produce almost 10% of the country’s goat milk.
Pick-Your-Own Fruit Farm
The Forde Abbey Fruit Farm began in the 1960s with commercially grown blackcurrants and strawberries. Undue pressure from the supermarkets over price helped to make the decision to concentrate on selling directly to the consumer, with only a small amount of fruit being sold through local shops. This move bought the Pick-Your-Own side of the business to the fore and 2007 saw the Abbey move into table-top grown strawberries, alongside its other varieties of fruit. Much easier picking!
It has been a bumper year at the fruit farm but the very warm weather has meant an earlier and shorter season than most years. The fruit farm is now closed for the season and will re-open in 2019.