The long association of my family with Birdineye began in 1908 when John Berry moved here as a tenant of the Buxted Park estate. Although farming has changed enormously over the years (as has life itself) we are proud that today John's great great great grandchildren are growing up here over a century on.
In the early days Birdineye was, in common with most farms, a mixed enterprise system. There were milking cows. The Berry's had a horse drawn milk round in Uckfield. Corn was grown and pigs and chickens were kept. We also obviously grew hops here at Birdineye hence our oast. The oast at Birdineye is actually a listed building and believed to be the only one of its type left in the country. It was built in 1838 and all the workings are still inside.
In 1920 John died and in 1922 his son Tom, my Grandfather managed to buy the farm when it was auctioned by the estate. He paid £2000. A lot of money in those days and it took a long time to pay it off. My Father Clem spent all his life working here and I farmed with him for many years, running a large milking herd.
Hay threshing on fields behind Framfield Road where Keld Avenue is now situated. The gentleman on the left is John Berry.
Hops were given up in the sixties but, do you know, people who picked hops here still come to visit us at the shops and catch up on news.
In the year 2000 I finally had to get rid of the milking herd. I still miss the cows but not the financial worries that come with them. Many of the redundant farm buildings were converted into workshops and now house a variety of small businesses including of course our own shop.
Selling our produce through the shop is really satisfying. Bringing traditionally produced, high quality goods direct to the consumer. Cutting out the middle man and giving an alternative to the modern supermarket culture is very rewarding. And of course...producing our own homegrown meats gives me the excuse to remain close to my first love...farming.
What would Great Grandfather have made of it all? Well I like to think that he would have recognized the quality of the traditionally grown produce. He may have raised an eyebrow at some of the changes to the farm, but I am sure he would be pleased to see we are still here as a family run, farm based business.