Environment and Conservation
Our aim is to encourage as much beneficial wildlife to the site as possible
This starts by encouraging micro-organisms to proliferate in the soil, which will increase its fertility, and by providing as many different habitats and food sources as we can for indigenous species. The more organisms that thrive on the farm, the higher the production of organic residues which will increase soil fertility. By re-establishing the natural ecosystems, pests and diseases will be reduced by natural processes.
Lead: Lin Firminger
tel: 07791 530514
Wildaid has helped to start diversity studies on the farm giving the opportunity to anyone interested to take part. OPAL carried out their first Grassland and Hedgerow Study here on our farm last September. The aim of this is to plot the progress of rehabilitation of grasslands to permanent meadow using marker plants. Further surveys have been undertaken involving local students and residents.
Clyst Vale Community College (Academy) have kindly donated the very large pond liner and underlay, whilst other members have donated livestock fencing, posts and carpet to protect the pond liner. We also have a variety of pond plants kindly donated. The Conservation Volunteers have put in a great deal of time and hard work for us. The school Science club leader has already scheduled pond dipping as one of the activities. A smaller part filled pond is already teaming with life.
All but one of the fields has now been sown with a mixture of coarse grasses, lucerne and red clover. This is not ideal for increasing invertebrates such as butterfly or moth species, but it is hoped that in time we will be able to move more towards meadow grasses and indigenous plant species. In the orchard it is very encouraging to see that Birds’ Foot Trefoil has sprung up from dormant seeds in the soil and a good number of Small Blue butterflies have populated the orchard this year. I hope they have been able to breed.
Hedges & Marginals
The hedges around the Communal area have substantially regenerated, following the hedge laying workshops of the Winter. Also the new stretch of Devon Bank with native saplings from the Woodland Trust has naturalised very quickly providing great wildlife habitat. We have planted out areas near the orchard with plants that will attract insects and birds but need to plant much more. There are plenty of stinging nettles in hedges and margins of the field which have given rise to two broods of small tortoiseshell and peacock caterpillars. For the first time in years, I watched a cloud of small tortoise shells swirling over the thistles flowers in the vegetable field. Some habitats for nesting wild and solitary bees have been started, along with small mammal and bird nesting sites, but again there is scope for hundreds more.
The Conservation Volunteers have done a fantastic job of building birdboxes and placing them around the farm. A recent survey by the RSPB identified 35 species of bird and was very complementary about our field margins.