In 2009, our family moved to Hawthbush Farm in rural East Sussex. The farm’s oral history has been passed down from family to family with the only stipulation being a love of the land and a sense of responsibility for the continued guardianship of it in its natural state. Our goal on arrival was to tread lightly on the land. We’d lived on a farm before, but this was different, much more immersive: we slotted into the farm’s harmonious ecosystem, not the other way around.
Since then we’ve explored, planted and foraged and we continue to be awed by this amazing space. Ancient wildflower meadows and woodland have flourished unchallenged for hundreds of years and we strive to preserve these for future generations. Our family makes up only a small number of the farm residents. Thanks to careful stewardship of the land, wildlife roams abundantly, from herds of deer and graceful birds of prey to tiny field mice and surprisingly speedy hedgehogs.
Complex habitats for rarer species of mammals, insects, birds, butterflies, moths, fungi and flora abound, and established dog rose, blackthorn, hawthorn and bramble offer them much-needed protection and sustenance. And with these comes huge benefits for us: air purification, soil restoration, pollinating insects and carbon sequestration. It’s a win–win for us and our guests.
Nowhere have we ever felt the seasons quite so eagerly as at Hawthbush. Each brings its own delights and gifts: we welcome spring by gathering wild garlic, nettle tips and hawthorn buds to make wild pesto or by strolling through the woodland glades whose floors are smattered with bluebells and wood anemones. Come summer, we like to be outdoors for as long as possible, from the sparkling dewy dawns to the bats swooping at dusk. Bird life is busy all year round, but autumn with its burgeoning berries and abundant insects provides a wondrous opportunity to watch the many different species that migrate through or call Hawthbush home. Winter is a time for cosying down in our cottages after a brisk walk around the farm, and perhaps picking up some Gun beer from our very own brewery on the way home.
You’ll see all this and signs of life everywhere on our farm walks and enjoy beautiful panoramas over the surrounding countryside to the coast to boot. You can download a footpath map here.