The hedgerows have an important structural function to provide secure boundaries that aid the productivity of the land (particularly by reducing soil erosion, providing wildlife habitat and being livestock proof). They can be managed to produce their own diverse small scale crops, including fodder such as nuts and berries as well as structural material like timber, bean poles and pea sticks. They provide many valuable educational opportunities particularly in declining rural skills.
To manage the farm's hedges in a sustainable way to the benefit of the farm project, land owner and wider community and environment. The long term goal is to reinstate many of the 18th century boundaries, to be managed as traditional Devon Banks with species-rich, productive plants.
The project's first season was the Winter of 2010/11. The priority at this time was to trial public events that were in highly accessible and visible areas. We did a lot of work along the Green Lane and around the Communal/Environmental area as this was in poor condition and represented the heart of the farm. We also started planting along the newly created bank (dividing the School Field along an old boundary). Also there was a large gap in the boundary hedging near the entrance trackway. The bank had completely fallen here, so needed to be manually rebuilt before planting.
The project has had a very successful first year and we now have access to far more of our boundary hedging (shown blue). We've seen great regeneration in the areas of hedge worked last season (green/brown). Among the major challenges of last year were an exceptionally dry Spring and problems with livestock security. The priorities this season should help to address these issues, primarily by closing gaps at the far end of the farm and by starting a Shelter Belt to the SW of the Vegetable and Livestock fields.
| Boundary SE of entrance gate||Contains a couple of dead uprights that are likely to get blown over soon.||Dead uprights to be taken out (chainsaw). Put in more attractive colourful species, e.g. Cherry, Maple, Spindle.|
| West boundary of Far Field||Boundary hedging largely missing = security issue! Bank not too bad, but serious rabbits.||Recommend thorney species such as Blackthorn/Bullace, Hawthorn and Holly for security. Also consider Gorse, Brambles and Rose. Odd taller Oak, Chestnut, Beech or Walnut would be nice.|
| SE boundary of Far Field||Gap in Elm hedge where bank fallen (easy access).||Scythe off nettles, build up bank. Livestock proof, sheltering species e.g. Hawthorn, Blackthorn.|
| Northern boundary of Far Field||Quite gappy adjacent mature Oaks (security).||Bank could do with some work. Quite exposed so recommend pioneers such as Rowan and Birch.|
| Top of Veg Field||Existing Elm over-flailed, bank undermined/fallen beyond repair.||Incorporate into Shelter Belt / Forest Garden (plans to follow).|
| Orchard boundary with Station Road||Mostly dead Elm, some new plants lower down bank.||Follow lower line with attractive species that can cope with Council flailing.|
| Southern boundary of Bonhay before pond||Large gap in Elm hedge, bank fallen, access difficult.||Rebuild bank and replant, incl. some trees for livestock shade e.g. Oak, Ash.|
| Boundary gap East corner of Bonhay||Bank was rebuilt and planted up last season.||Infill and extend new planting up past existing Elder. Suggest Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Dogwood, Spindle.|
| Divides Bonhay & Far Field||Flailed Elm, some small gaps.||Start Shelter Belt on far side. Pioneer species e.g. Birch, Poplar, Willow, maybe some nuts.|
| Pond in Southern corner of Bonhay||Elm hedging reasonably thick.||Allow Elm to grow up for livestock shade. Plant trees around pond, maybe Willow and Hazel?|
| SW boundary of Far Field||Gaps in Hazel/Willow hedge, bank not too bad (easy access).||Put in some taller trees for livestock/wildlife shelter, e.g. Cherry, Chestnut, Beech, Ash.|
| Divides School-Veg fields||New bank needs hedge establishing.||Scythe down weeds and extend/in-fill last year's planting. Quite exposed so hardies like Hawthorn Spindle & Dogwood suggested.|
| NW corner of Far Field||Some dead uprights in this corner (out of the way).||Take out (chainsaw) as will fall over eventually. Wood can be used elsewhere.|
| SW corner of Far Field||Couple of dead uprights (out of the way).||Take out (chainsaw) as will fall over eventually. Wood can be used elsewhere.|
| Sheltered corner of Veg Field||Bank fallen rather. Oak provides good shelter. Ground contains rubble.||Scythe down nettles, rapair bank, incorporate hedgerow species. Might be a good place to start soft-fruit: strawberries & raspberries?|
| Pond to North of School Field||Hedge not really accessible, neighbours making some improvements.||Start off water loving species e.g. Willow.|
| Veg Field boundary with School||Rather a tight Elm hedge.||Fill in odd gaps - nut trees?|
| School Field boundary with Station Road||Rather gappy Bramble.||Consider improving diversity with something attractive, e.g. Dogwood, Maple.|