TRANSFORMING A FAMILY FARM INTO A POLLINATOR HAVEN
Arla farmer, David Johnson, currently has 200 cows and a resident family of barn owls on his farm in Warrington. He has been inviting wildlife to Greenhill Farm since he took over more than 20 years ago and added flowering plants to the ponds that were already there to encourage bees, birds and other insects.
David explains, ”It’s really exciting to see where we can go with our approach to encouraging wildlife and biodiversity on the farm. We’re still learning everyday about what will work and what won’t, but it’s great to see we are doing something to help the environment”.
He has transformed the family farm into a haven for pollinators with patches across the farm now teeming with bees, butterflies and all kinds of insects. He comments, "It was hard work at first but now we understand the rhythm, we keep looking for ways to tweak what we do to ensure that we continue to protect the environment and wildlife for years to come.”
SHROPSHIRE FARMER HELPING BEES GET THEIR BUZZ BACK
Organic farmer Chris Jerman, whose farm is in Chirbury in Shropshire, is passionate about pollinators. He is so passionate that he’s dedicated time, energy and land to providing homes for bees and other pollinators on his farm.
Chris joined the Arla Pollinator Project in 2019. The initiative was launched to help biodiversity by increasing wild bee populations through planting pollinator patches on farms. He explained, “As an individual, a father and a farmer, it’s important for me to leave the world around us in even better shape for the next generation and so I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the Arla project”.
The initiative saw him plant wildflower seed mixes on patches of farm near footpaths and hedgerows. These have developed into beautiful wildflower meadows, that are a sight to behold and a haven for pollinators. The meadows are now filled with bee’s, butterflies and other pollinators and more and more appear each year.
OXFORD FARMER CREATING A BUZZ IN THE FIELDS
David Christensen is an accomplished farmer who grew up on a farm and now takes care of Kingston Hill Farm in the Thames Valley near Oxford.
His passion for sustainability, innovation in farming and the environment are all what led him to get involved in Arla’s Pollinator Project a few years ago. The project, which is part of the dairy cooperative’s 360 standards programme, supports biodiversity by dedicating farmland for planting pollinator patches to increase habitats for a variety of wild insects.
David has cultivated various patches across the farm since joining the scheme in 2019. As well as the patches, David farms sustainably by allowing fields to flower for longer before cutting for hay and by spreading some of the hay back on the fields, which spreads more seeds, helping more plants to grow. These projects provide pollinators with rich habitats throughout the year and ensure that more pollinator plants come through the following year.
David comments, “It’s a simple idea that promises to give everyone a bit of a buzz. It’s important that as custodians of the British countryside, that we lead this, but also important that everyone gets involved to play their part in helping nature. We need help pollinators, like bees, by providing somewhere safe to rest and refuel as they help to produce the food we love.”
GLOUCESTERHIRE FARMER GIVING LONE BEES COMPANY
Organic farmer Chris North runs Arc farm which borders the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.
Chris works hard to encourage and enhance biodiversity and has been actively supporting pollinators on his farm for many years. He has been particularly focused on attracting and feeding lone worker or solitary bees, which are easily overlooked but are thought to pollinate plants more efficiently than honeybees. They provide an essential pollination service, pollinating our crops and ensuring that plant communities are healthy and productive.
Chris loves seeing the farm swarming with birds, bees, butterflies and other insects and has a growing population of wild butterfly, deer & wild boar on farm. He also has one of the largest and ecologically important populations of bats in Europe.
Chris says, “It’s important that we do all we can to help the environment. Encouraging a range of plants and wildlife, including insects, to thrive by developing and growing their habitats, is crucial. Biodiversity is important for wildlife, our environment and the food we eat. Creating more pollinator patches for bees and other insects is something we can all get involved in and something that really bears fruit!”
POLLINATOR SUPPORT IS TALK OF VILLAGE
Ed Ogborne’s neighbours comment on the beauty of the wild flowers alongside the footpaths that criss-cross the land which his family farm in the Chew Valley, south of Bristol. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.
In addition to caring for his 85 organic dairy cows, Ed also makes a special effort to take care of the pollinators that make his farm their home. In fact the farm is part of a Countryside Stewardship Scheme that requires certain land management practices which encourage wild flowers and attracts wildlife, including pollinators, who play a critical role in our natural food system.
Clover-rich pastures are rotationally grazed by the cattle to allow flowering, providing a nutritious feed to both the pollinators and cattle. The farm also features hedgerows with blackthorn, hawthorn, elder and dog-rose, by leaving some of these hedges untrimmed each year it increases the blooms that support these vital insects as well as other wildlife.
Ed’s pleased to be able to help support biodiversity and pollinators in this way and explains, “We have a lot of well-used footpaths that go between two nearby villages. A lot of land on the stewardship scheme is on these footpaths, so passers-by will comment on how nice it is to see wildflowers and pollinators. It’s a great talking point that leads onto other conversations about how we farm here and the role we play in helping to support nature.”
OFFERING POLLINATORS A REAL FARM FEAST
Will Holmes runs a dairy farm in Weymouth, Dorset, in a beautiful hillside spot that runs right onto the beach.
For the last two years, Will has been actively supporting pollinators on his farm. He now has a few ‘pollinator patches’ and hives for bees and bugs as part of dairy cooperative Arla’s efforts to support and encourage biodiversity.
In total Will has dedicated over 17hectares of his land (that’s equivalent to around 31 football pitches!) to these special pollinator patches. These will be blooming with nectar flower mixes, bird food mixes (which have some nectar sources as well), legume fallow mixes (which are good for bees) and bumblebee mixes across the farm. All helping pollinators to refuel and rest as they move around, playing their crucial part in our food system.
Will explains, “I wanted to start these special patches on my farm to provide a habitat for more insects and the diversity of wildlife that brings. It also means I can make the most of some of those awkward parts of the farm and put them to good, environmental use. I think it’s really important to try to leave the farm in a better state than when we started here.”