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Farming in the Second Half of the 20th Century

Farming in the 21st Century

The Brown family, who in 2009 are the only farmers left in the parish, are descended from two farming families who came to Elsfield in the early years of the 20th century. Gilbert John Brown was appointed Clerk of Works to Christ Church when the Parish was sold to the College by the Parsons family in 1919. The Brown family now farming in Elsfield are descended from Gilbert, whose son Jack married Dora, one of the seven daughters of the Watts family, who came to live at Forest Farm at roughly the same time as the Browns. At the time the Watts family moved to Elsfield there was no ring road and the family had to drive their goods and animals through the centre of Oxford, through St Clements and along the Marston road to get to Elsfield from the west of the county.

Since the year 2000 all the land in and around the village of Elsfield has been farmed by the Brown family: David Brown and two of his three sons, Martin and Richard. David and Martin Brown live at Sescut Farm, which is on low lying land near the River Cherwell, while Richard lives in Elsfield village at Church Farm, where his grandfather Jack once lived and farmed. Where once Church Farm employed 14 men, the Browns now use machinery and employ only students and family members at busy times of the year.

Pigs

Jamie with the pigs at Sescut Farm, 1989
Jamie with the pigs at Sescut Farm, 1989

There were pigs at Church Farm until 1995 and at Sescut until 2008. The late 1990s were bad years for pigs, and in 2001 came the terrible scourge of foot and mouth disease. In the 90s, £15 a pig was being lost on every animal sold, and the Browns were selling 300 pigs a week. Until 2001, there were 500 indoor breeding sows and 200 outdoor pigs. They were producing 1500 pigs a year which were sold through two outlets: Banbury market, one of the most important markets in Europe, and Thames Valley Pigs, an organisation which marketed 35,000 pigs a week. The pigs were reared till at 17 weeks they reached 95 kilos, when they were sold for bacon.


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