We have previously had both Entry and Higher Level Stewardship schemes on our farms. Set up in 2006, the HLS scheme at Barton Hill Farm in 2006 proved to be a successful way of managing the environment. After the change in legislation and subsequent abolition of HLS, we are applying for a Countryside Stewardship scheme, to start in January 2019.
We have reintroduced lapwings and existing species such as skylarks, yellow-hammers, grey partridge and brown hares have increased significantly in number. We have also linked the grassland of the Barton Hill Nature Reserve with that of the Pegsdon Hills, taking approximately 12 hectares out of production to create an area of naturally regenerated native species.
Wild flower margins are also a feature on the farm and we have had an amazing display of Vipers Bugloss, which must have been dormant in the seed bank until now, when it has been given the opportunity to flourish. Linking in with our work for LEAF, we also have target species, which we work towards protecting and enhancing over time. This year one of them is basil thyme, which is a rare plant that has been found on the edge of one of our fields.
In the past 5 years we have planted over 150 shrubs and 2500 hedge plants on our farms and where ancient parkland used to exist we have put in 8 small trees (walnut, horse chestnut and oak). This is all voluntary and it has enhanced the environmental schemes that have been and will be in place.
In 2009 we won Gold in the "Landscape Improvement" category of the CPRE Living Countryside Awards:
"A very impressive project with tangible benefits for wildlife, access and landscape. Excellent demonstration farm, showing integration of environmental protection, preservation of landscape features and commercial farming are compatible. Strong on education – open farm days to groups and other public access. Farm walks a huge success with much community involvement. Use of partnerships and finances to increase value of scheme."
Visit our farm website to find out more.