Maidstone's best kept secret has been granted a permanent home
Roundoak based at Sutton Valence and home to some 500 hebridean sheep and 80 Highland cows and calves has been granted planning permission by Maidstone Borough Council for a permanent agricultural dwelling.
The farm is a unique enterprise and the idea of Norman and Ruth Coles. The Hebridean Sheep and Highland Cattle are now a familiar site around Maidstone, Central Kent and East Sussex. The breeds are renowned for their Conservation Grazing and Roundoak have developed many partnerships with organisations such as Kent County Council, Kent Wildlife Trust, Medway Valley and Teston Parish to name but a few. This Conservation Grazing combined with a commercial business plan has lead to the farms success.
It is well known that rare breeds grown much slower than conventional breeds. Slow growing animals and plants are leaner, less fatty and low in cholesterol, qualities that are important in this day and age. The farm supplies many individuals who by direct from the farm, as well as supplying local restaurants and butchers.
Although the farm has had a temporary licence, it has now been granted planning permission for a permanent agricultural dwelling. The new dwelling has had to satisfy Maidstone Borough Council and their special advisers of its profitability and sustainability. It has been heavily scrutinised over the past 5 years.
Roundoak attracts many visitors each year and is becoming a tourist attraction. Visitors come to look at the magnificent Highland beasts and the Hebridean Sheep. The farm is also experimenting with a number of other rare breeds including the endangered North Ronaldsays and Boray sheep. It is also expected that the farm will have a small heard of White Park cattle shortly.
The farm always welcomes visitors,who by prior appointment are given personalised tours of the farm and animals.