Why buy land? – The Property Chronicle
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Why buy land? A farmer reflects on the opportunity that ownership brings for conservation and development

The Farmer

Northern lapwing wading in water

The skylark’s Latin name is Alauda arvensis. Roughly translated, it means exaltation from the field, an observation about its song and activity in asserting its territory. The lapwing, too, has a thrilling flight display when it first puts its stamp on its chosen breeding ground. Naturally driven euphoria can also grip the farmer, most powerfully when they expand their domain.

A farm that we rent has recently become available to purchase. At about 145 acres, it is more than a fifth of our farmed area, sits next to the main holding and is divided from it only by a country lane. Horse Eye Farm was available to purchase 18 years ago, but we persuaded the then owner, a brilliant ex-accountant, to rent it to us. We could not have afforded a mortgage at that time. He became as interested as we were (after some subtle persuasion) in the use of the land for the government-backed Countryside Stewardship scheme, here utilised to flood ex-arable fields to encourage nesting lapwing and recreate wetlands, so he agreed terms. We thus took on the farm at an economic rent which, with the subsidy and allied return from our cattle and sheep, was profitable for us too.

The Farmer

About Martin Hole

Martin Hole

Martin Hole farms at Montague on the wetlands of the Pevensey Levels in East Sussex. Part family-owned and part rented, the 300ha organic enterprise provides a home to about 150 cattle and nearly 2,000 head of sheep, with a small diversification into residential property and a fledgling green tourism business. A former RSPB UK Lapwing Champion, Martin remains fascinated by the provision of wilderness whilst trying to keep the farm intact for three daughters.

Articles by Martin Hole

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