Situated in the Torridge valley between Bideford and Alverdiscott, Stone Farm is a small mixed farm which the Auvray family has owned since 1924, when Arthur Nicholls moved his family down from Rackenford, high up on Exmoor. They used to farm dairy and beef cattle, sheep, Wessex saddleback pigs, turkeys, ducks and chickens. Produce used to be sold in the traditional way at Bideford Pannier Market and at the farm gate. There are ancient meadows which have not been ploughed since the Great War, traditional woodland, arable and grass fields. All the fields are gently sloping and from some you can see out over Bideford Bay to the Bristol Channel beyond. The soil is good and productive, although there are indeed plenty of stones as the farm name suggests! Old Stone Farmhouse dates back to the sixteenth century and still has some cob walls and ancient cruck beams cut out of whole oak trees. Nowadays we mainly use the land to graze organic Red Ruby Devon cattle and Lleyn sheep, and to produce haylage for winter feed.
Stone Farm has been Soil Association certified organic for nearly two decades. We have always believed that farming should be undertaken in sympathy with nature, using traditional methods and respecting the environment. The biodiversity and complex ecology that maintain the health and fertility of our fields and soil have always been a priority. At Stone Farm we do not use any damaging chemicals or fertilisers but rely on crop rotation to ensure the sustained fertility of the land. Careful management of stock minimises the risk of disease among the animals. The animals are free to graze and forage naturally on organic pasture in conditions that suit their natural behaviour. The choice of breeds which include the Red Ruby Devon cattle and Lleyn sheep are specifically chosen as they are native breeds suited to the landscape which they inhabit. All of this makes for stress and disease free animals which in turn provide us with top quality meat.
Our “TOP MEADOW” brand gets its name from one of the meadows at Stone Farm. South-facing, a traditional meadow of grasses and herbs, sloping gently towards a stream shaded by oaks and ash trees that feeds into the Torridge, it is indeed the epitomy of a rural England largely lost to us. Stone Farm is our “home” farm and where Ilga Auvray creates her delicious range of organic StoneFarm chutneys and preserves also available in the shop. It also doubles up as TopMeadow HQ!