How an 11,500 acre organic farm becomes a Festival of Speed
In five days’ time the first of 200,000 visitors will descend on Lord March’s 11,500-acre estate in West Sussex for the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Over the weekend they’ll watch heritage motor vehicles and pioneering supercars storm up the iconic 1.16 mile Hillclimb. But when I visit on a soggy day in May, the task is less a test of speed and more one of orienteering as we try to track down Tim Hassell’s Sussex cattle.
"There should be some in there," he says, bringing his Land Rover Discovery to a halt at the top of a steep field. Hassell is the general manager of Home Farm, the Goodwood Estate’s lowland organic farm, and at 3,800 acres one of the UK’s largest. It’s no surprise that his herds are hard to find.
Hassell joined Goodwood eight years ago, having previously farmed in Northumberland ("it’s easier down here, warmer!") and under his direction Home Farm has grown its livestock numbers as well as diversifying its traditional meat and milk production with ranges of cheese and beer.
Over 200 dairy cows and their young, 500 pigs, 3,000-odd sheep and lambs, and "getting on for 500 beef animals" roam the farm. There are sheep, nonplussed in the driving rain, grazing outside Goodwood House on land that will soon be cornered by Ford Mustangs and Dodge Vipers as they compete in the festival’s first ever drift competition.
Hassell is well used to relinquishing his fields for the events, but the vast acreage allows him to rehome animals with ease, and to grow barley and oats for their feed.
We spy a group of two-year-old Sussex cows down the hill, their coats a deep rust-red with a gloss befitting a just-polished Austin. They swarm to greet Hassell, nuzzling for attention. "Only two or three people handle them," he says, explaining their tameness.
"They graze all over the chalky downland where we have clovers and vetches, which are high in protein."