West Harting deer park is 'already gaining a reputation'

Sky Park Deer Farm manager Dominic Strutt feeds deer
Sky Park Deer Farm manager Dominic Strutt feeds deer

Plans to open up a deer park to the public are well underway and ‘running smoothly’ the farm’s co-owner has said.

Pierce and Victoria Noonan were given planning permission to open up their deer farm, Sky Park Farm in Durford Lane, West Harting, to the public earlier this year and hope to open it in spring next year.

A red deer stag on the farm

A red deer stag on the farm

“The farm is all coming together,” said Pierce, “The farm itself is all up and running completely.

“We have got quite a number of animals born on the farm last year which have been sold to other deer farms across the country.”

The farm has been running for the last two years and has been making a reputation for itself in the industry due to its ‘high quality animals’.

A number of stags have been sold and almost all of the farms hinds have been advance ordered.

“It’s great. Within the industry we already have a certain reputation which we are hoping to grow considerably.”

Sky Park Farm has also been host to a number of deer farming training days for other farmers and people working in the industry.

The main aim of the farm is to open the farm to members of the public for ‘recreational and educational purposes’.

The application includes the conversion of farm buildings to provide a farm shop, butchery, café and WC facilities.

The butchery will sell venison related products and other local produce.

A children’s outdoor activity and picnic area with hand crafted play equipment is also going to feature on the site alongside hard-surfaced pathways to provide safe and accessible routes though the farm for visitors to see the deer up close and enjoy the setting of the farm.

“Part of the idea behind it would be to show people where their meat comes from,” Pierce added.

“That’s very important, especially to youngsters, whilst I know it might not be to everyone’s taste.”

Pierce said they are planning on upping the number of staff on the site in the coming months

Currently the farm hires two full times staff members and takes other on for support on a contractual basis but more would be needed with the opening of the farm shop, café and butchery.

“It’s really about making a small farm viable.

“It’s only 75 to 77 acres and It’s very difficult to make farming successful just farming it.”

The areas of proposed public access amounts to seven per cent of the total farm area.

In the proposal, the farm listed ways in which it would promote National Park values

These include promoting tourism, promoting local produce, supporting farm diversification and providing access to the country side.

Sky Park Farm is more than 75 acres and home to more than 200 deer.