Arable - The Sampson Farm
Robert Sampson, like his father, grandfather and great grandfather before him, is really called Edward. Sampson continues this process in pure tradition.
That one word, tradition, sums up Harbridge Farm, a cluster of Georgian redbricks in Hampshire’s Avon Valley. Here, time seems to have stopped in the middle of the 19th century and to have continued at the same pace – a gentle trot – ever since.
Sampson, 58, farms this 235-acre holding on the edge of the New Forest using the same materials his great grandfather (Edward) John Sampson did when he first started out in 1847: horses, leather harnesses, wood and steel. He uses his animals to plough, sow, harrow and roll the land, which belongs to the Somerley Estate and for which, following the death of his father, (Edward) Thomas Sampson, he holds the lifetime lease.
In an age of ever industrialised farming methods, where metal machines churn up the countryside to plough endless acres of soil, it is remarkable, really, that this way of life can still exist. Sampson does admit to owning “a very elderly” tractor, digger and a Seventies combine harvester he bought last year for £700. But here the horse is still king.