hare raising

We are here for the long term. The land is owned by the Church Commissioners, and the Browning family have been tenants since 1950, since when the farm has grown slightly to about 1,400 organic acres across the north Wiltshire Downs, right on the Oxfordshire and Berkshire borders. Helen Browning has run the place since 1986, when she started to move it towards organic status.

Some key figures, if a little dull in black and white:

the valley

About 3,000 organic pigs alive here (and roaming large parts of it) at any one time, aged from an hour (or a minute) to 10 years old.

We produce about 950,000 litres of organic milk every year from 170 dairy cows, which goes partly to the Organic Milk Supply Co-op, and partly to our local organic processor Berkeley Farm, just down the road. From the dairy herd we produce, as you might expect, a further 170 young animals each year – some are destined for a life as a dairy cow here; some we sell as beef; and some we sell (and consume) as pink or rose veal.

Aside from livestock, we grow wheat for breadmaking and animal feed; peas for animal feed; oats for porridge and muesli, and sometimes barley for the brewing industry.

 

 

 

Making all this happen are:

  • Henry Stoye (loves great wine)
  • Clive Hill (in thrall to birdwatching)
  • Dai Wilson (a good welsh boy, rugby and sheep)
  • Teo Stefan the dairyman (just loves his cows)
  • Daz Hillier (old cars)
  • Andrew Burtenshaw (birds and wildlife)
  • Andrew Crocker (old Land Rovers)
  • David Henderson (Pigs and Gigs)
  • Tony Connolly (Welsh rugby)
  • Hilda Deane (likes numbers and cricket); and
  • Sue Stringer (tea, wine and cows)
  • all encouraged and cajoled and steered by
    Helen Browning.

(This list itself is a remarkable facet of the place—how many farms employ as large a number of people on such an acreage, never mind the rest of us employed in adding value to what the farm grows?)

the valley

This farm grows food. If you want to find out where it goes, and should you wish, where you can eat it, just read on about our sister businesses.

OR: come and visit us. We are a wide open farm. In theory and in practice, there’s nothing to stop you arriving here, and looking into every building, walking through every field, and hopefully ending with lunch or supper or coffee at the pub in the middle of the place.

I do not think anyone has ever been stopped from doing this. If you choose to let us know beforehand, and want some guidance, all you have to do is call. Best contact for this is often through the pub.

This farm, and the countryside around it, is good for:

  • Walking
  • Horse riding
  • Cycling/Running
  • Occasional camping    
  • Bird watching
  • Lying in the sun, watching pigs
  • Counting wild flowers and grasses
  • A great lunch or supper!

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latest awards

SA Gold Award

Hot Dog and Beef Sirloin Winners

Following two years of being ‘highly commended’, our Helen Browning brand organic hot dogs, have now won ‘Gold’ in the Organic Food Awards. They are amazing, we think – what hot dogs used to be like, before they were made of pig skin and old washing up lines all pulped up together! And Helen's Beef Sirloin, also usually on the menu here, also won ‘Gold’.

 

Sustainable Restaurants award

Sustainable Restaurant Association gives 
Helen Browning at The Royal Oak top score for good practice!

Out of about 450 restaurants, hotels and pubs, the SRA has awarded The Royal Oak Three Gold Stars for its sustainable practices. Our pub joins only three other establishments in the country in the top bracket of the SRA's league table. They have commended our food sourcing, our healthy food on the plate, the way we treat food suppliers, our recycling and, last but not least, the care with which we try to look after customers and staff. www.thesra.org You can read more here

 

Food For Life logo 

Proud to be a member of the Soil Association’s catering mark supplier scheme that provides assurance to caterers on food and drink issues such as health, animal welfare and the environment.

See the Soil Association’s website for more information.

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