Set in the countryside village of Churcham in Gloucestershire, the third-generation farm was purchased by farmer Harold Smart in 1949 and is now jointly owned by grandchildren David and Peter Smart.
After starting life as a 250-acre, purely arable farm, the business has expanded over time and now oversees combined crops, poultry, renewable energy projects, and a mixed-use business park.
Keen to follow in the footsteps of their father and grandfather, David and Peter Smart took on the running of the farm. They purchased the neighbouring farm and invested heavily in poultry to bolster the farm’s future.
In 2003, the Smart family expanded into commercial property when work began on the construction of a light industrial development on the site. Churcham Business Park is comprised of stylish, purpose-designed buildings with a mix of industrial and business space.
David Smart says: “As is the case for most farms in the region, we knew the land on our farm was not suitable for growing high-value crops like potatoes, but its close proximity to the M5 and Gloucester – which is home to the most inland port in the UK – makes it the ideal place for a business park. The key to diversification is playing to your strengths.”
In 2013, Smart Farms invested in and installed 25 biomass boilers, providing the farm with a renewable heat source in place of the previous fossil fuel heating.
Solar panels were the next venture. The panels provide 40 percent of the electricity needed to run the farm as well as producing excess energy to power local homes through sale to the National Grid.
David explains that there is always a degree of risk associated with diversification, particularly with renewables: “My best advice to other farmers and landowners is to only embark on renewables projects for sound business reasons. After all, it is a holistic business decision and will impact the future of the farm. When taking up grants, you should first ensure that the project can stand on its own and has a sustainable and robust future when the funding has depleted. Lastly, be aware of the pitfalls of capital taxation, and giving away control over parts of your land that you then cannot have any say on.”
As a family-focused business, Smart Farms prides itself on building long-term relationships with staff, advisors, suppliers, and customers. “We have 15 members of staff, all of whom are very important to the company and have been with us for a long time,” David says. “We like to work with people who we know and trust, who have the same values as us, and who demonstrate honesty and integrity in everything they do.”
“As a firm, Lodders is perfectly aligned with our values and holds our relationship in high regard. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with Lodders as we use the economic strength of the business to sensibly expand and futureproof Smart Farms for generations to come.”Contact us
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