Pat Gallagher, Chairman of the Gallagher Group, always dreamt of owning a farm, and this became a reality in 1987 when he purchased Hermitage Farm in Barming, Kent.
Set within the 600 acre Hermitage Estate is a successful cattle breeding farm, an equine centre, woodland and 220 acres of grassland. In the last 20 years, 30 hectares (74 acres) of Hermitage Farm have been quarried and 16 hectares (40 acres) have been reinstated to a combination of agriculture, hedgerows and broadleaved woodland. The grazing quality of the restored land is surpassing the yields of the original pasture and the new hedgerows and woodland are attracting species such as green woodpeckers, jays and goldfinches.
Nature conservation is a key objective of not just the restoration but the whole of the estate. Over a quarter of a million native trees and shrubs have been planted as hedges, copse and woodland. These are already creating habitats that support ecological improvements to the wildlife both in terms of population and the types of species.
Large areas of the estate are open to the public on a 'permissive' basis with footpaths and tracks having been created for the benefit of walkers, cyclists and horse riders from the local community.