FARMING, WILDLIFE AND PEOPLE IN HARMONY
We are part of an exciting new movement in farming and conservation. Nationwide groups of farmers, sometimes referred to as ‘Farmer Clusters’, are working collectively to deliver greater benefits for soil, water and wildlife at a landscape scale. We initiate and devise our own conservation plans in line with local environmental priorities.
We first set up as an independent, member-led, self-funded organisation in 2017 with a small group of landowners and managers covering over 18,000 acres of land in the Wylye Valley, Wiltshire. We have grown significantly from this base and now have many more members covering over 29,000 acres. In 2019 we successfully bid for extra funding through the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund. Improving ecological connectivity and producing healthy soils and clean water are key to our success. Our focus is to weave joined up spaces for nature through a healthy, and productive farmed landscape.
Each of our farmer members has been involved in individual conservation schemes in the past but there is only so much that can be achieved by acting in isolation. Connecting management across neighbouring farms will deliver far greater benefits.
Group members sign up to a simple group agreement which sets out the groups aims and terms of reference. The group is administered by a Management Committee and employs a conservation adviser to act as 'facilitator'.
OUR ENVIRONMENT AND WILDLIFE
We are lucky to live and work in a beautiful and diverse area of countryside between Warminster and Wylye. Our farms cover upwards of 8000 ha (18000 acres) ranging from small riverside meadows, farm woods and productive forests, internationally rare chalk downland and arable fields of all shapes and sizes.
We are lucky to have a long list of species on our farms including some that a very rare.
Our farmers and farms reflect the diversity in the landscape. We range from smallholders to large commercial businesses. We produce cereals, fodder crops, beef, lamb and milk and much, much more............
WHAT WE DO
Our main focus is on biodiversity and water but here are a few things in our conservation plan...
Reducing water pollution - reducing levels of nitrate, phosphate and sediment run-off reaching the River Wylye and the groundwater. We have been running a series of soil health activities, sampling and trials and achieved much of this in partnership with Wessex Water.
Flood alleviation – looking at opportunities for natural flood management to reduce the amount of surface water run-off, soil erosion and slowing the movement of floodwaters within the floodplain.
River restoration – we are working with the Wessex Rivers Trust and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust on the Wider Wylye project which aims to restore the river to a more natural state and reconnect it to the floodplain.
Priority habitats - calcareous grassland, floodplain meadows, ancient woodland, fen, riparian habitats and arable field margins; maintaining current habitats in good condition, restoring habitats in sub-optimal condition, extending and linking habitats to increase connectivity for wildlife. We are working with the charity Plantlife on our juniper project to bring this species back from the brink of extinction in Wiltshire.
Farm wildlife - increasing numbers of declining farmland species such as corn bunting, lapwing, stone curlew, turtle dove, barn owl, brown hare, dormouse and butterflies. Our disease resistant elm planting project aims to bring the rare white-letter hairstreak back to the Wylye Valley.
Wild pollinators - providing year round resources for bees, butterflies etc including flower rich habitats producing pollen and nectar. Our Nectar Connector project is funded through the Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme and aims to create pollinator highways across the landscape.
Education - engaging with local schools and community groups through our projects and events such as Open Farm Sunday to demonstrate the importance of farming in the rural economy and its role in delivering a wealth of public benefits.
WHERE WE FARM
We operate mainly inside the area indicated below and welcome other farmers and land managers within and nearby to join us.
Public access via the extensive network of existing rights of way is welcomed and we aim to work with visitors and locals to encourage a better understanding of how we manage our farms, the countryside and it’s wildlife.
BECOME A SPONSOR
We are always looking for opportunities to form partnerships with like-minded individuals, companies and organisations with an interest in farming, the countryside and conservation.
Please get in touch if you want to hear more…………
Secretary: Patrick Durnford, Fowler Fortescue, The Old Dairy, Fonthill Bishop, Salisbury, SP3 5SH. UK.
TEL: +44 1747 820031 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Facilitator: Robin Leech, East Farm, Codford, Warminster, BA12 0PG
Tel: 07881 305836 | Robin@jmstratton.co.uk