Kim Everett explains how she and her husband Simon were helped by the Woodland Trust to plant trees on their smallholding in Kent
Simon and I purchased Hollin Root Farm with my parents in 2002. It is a 20-acre grass farm in the Weald of Kent. There is some hedging on one side of the farm and a few trees. One the other side of the farm, sheep netting breaks up the paddocks.
The first livestock to arrive were sheep, Manx Loaghtan, a rare breed of primitive horned sheep. Then came the pigs. The idea was to buy a couple of rare breed weaners for meat and change the breed each year. We started with Large Black, then Oxford Sandy and Black, then Middle White, and that’s as far as we got. We were hooked on the Middle Whites. They have a fantastic nature, a squashed face full of character and the meat is mouthwatering. After a few years, we bought 25 turkeys to rear for Christmas and this has now grown to over 300. The Dexter cows complete the livestock on the farm.
Half the farm has very little shade for the pigs or shelter for the sheep and cows. Over the years, we planted a few trees to try and create a little more shade, then last year I saw an advertisement in Country Smallholding about the Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods Scheme. I expressed an interest and Luke Everitt, a woodland creation adviser, got in touch.
I sent over details of the farm and Luke came out to see if our farm could qualify for a grant towards tree planting and hedging. We were accepted and Luke emailed through suggested planting areas. There will be a small wooded area at the end of one of the fields; a hedge incorporating some fruit trees will be planted through the middle of one of the fields and small groups of a few trees dotted around the rest of the farm, including in the turkey paddock.
The Woodland Trust recommended the tree species and provided planting guidance. They organised delivery of the trees and all the guards and stakes needed for protection and support. The day after the trees arrived we planted the hedge and marked out the wooded area. The following weekend we planted more than 500 trees in the wooded area with guards in place.
As well as practical results for shade and shelter, we are hoping to create a more diverse farm and encourage a variety of wildlife to visit, especially the barn owl which has recently arrived on the ground directly below our farm and which we now often see hunting through the fields.
The whole experience has been stress free and a real pleasure. There will be the cost of fencing the area away from the livestock, but I’m sure this project would have taken many years to achieve without the help of the Woodland Trust. We would like to thank them for providing the grant and for their help and advice.
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