Prince Charles Turns Sandringham Organic

He says that ecosystems will flourish as Nature intended and we’ll always put back more than we take from the land.

It's remarkable how a man, once derided by many as a befuddled tree-hugger, has become recognised as an early adopter of ecologically sound thinking and a leader by example on how to deliver a more sustainable world.

In 2017, Britain's future king took over management of the Queen’s 21,000 Norfolk estate at Sandringham. The year after, he and his team began to convert the estate into a fully organic operation, reports Country Life.

He told the magazine: ‘Since the beginning of the 1980s, when I first had responsibility for managing some land in my own right at Highgrove, I have wanted to focus on an approach to food production that avoids the impact of the predominant, conventional system of industrialised agriculture, which, it is increasingly clear to see, is having a disastrous effect on soil fertility, biodiversity and animal and human health. It has always seemed to me somewhat logical to embrace a farming system that works with Nature and not against her.’

As part of the programme, a flock of 3,000 sheep have been introduced to the estate, providing natural fertiliser, as well as new trees and other crops. Some older staples of the estate have had to go - sugar beet, for example, can’t be farmed organically - and changes will keep coming for many years to come.

The Prince's land agent says: ‘We are just starting out, but have had early success. The carbon-cutting toolkit we use suggests that, already, the farm’s CO2 footprint has reduced by more than 6,000 tons a year, even after including our sheep and cattle enterprises. Our understanding of how we measure biodiversity, soil carbon and other key indicators is developing rapidly and we have absolute confidence that we will continue to improve.’

Here are some facts and figures surrounding the programme:

  • More than two million trees planted.

  • 45 new woodlands created.

  • A flock of 3,000 sheep and a herd of 500 cattle are being established.

  • 25 miles of new hedges planted.

  • 124 miles of field margins established.

  • 494 acres of uncultivated land maintained as a food source for wildlife.

  • Dersingham Bog, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, is now managed by Natural England.

  • 10 wetlands created.

  • 395 acres of wild-bird cover established.

  • All food waste, glass, metal, plastic, cardboard and paper is recycled.

  • The estate’s sawmill processes felled timber into fencing and firewood, as well as into wood chippings for biomass boilers.

It's surely possible (even probable) that Britain's future king will have an important global role to play in the pursuit of planetary health.