When Farm2Fork moved to Dalditch we were presented with a wonderful opportunity to embrace and enrich the new diverse environment we now inhabit.
As an organic farm with a firm focus on regenerative practices, we see our new home as a place where we can work together with the natural wild surroundings and continue to encourage biodiversity and thriving habitats for wildlife.
Dalditch Farm sits right next to the protected Pebblebed Heaths of East Devon, set up by the Clinton Devon Estates, of which we are part. It’s a national nature reserve, and has been designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).
The Pebblebed Heaths reserve covers some 1,400 hectares and is a rare example of lowland heath, which is threatened across the UK. It runs next to the River Otter Estuary, which stretches more than 33 hectares and is teeming with wildlife.
More than 120 bird species including the whimbrel, black-tailed godwit, and the Dartford warbler, along with specific archaeological treasures, and a huge variety of vascular plant species, fungi and mosses, have been found on the heaths and include 94 of county, national or international significance. This shows just how important this area is for both wildlife and history, and we feel honoured to now be custodians of a little piece of land that sits in this pristine wilderness.
As such, there is a burden of responsibility for us to maintain and develop the richness we already see in terms of wildlife.
By farming with nature and following completely organic processes, shunning toxic chemicals, and allowing our animals to graze in a way that supports grasslands and soils, we see a huge wealth of animals literally from our back door.
We are always overjoyed when we spot birds of prey swooping overhead, which of course suggests there are prey creatures below thriving in the grasses of Farm2Fork, and beyond our fences.
Reptiles, bats, deer, foxes, rabbits and a wide variety of birds, moths and butterflies are all seen regularly on the farm at Dalditch. We’ve even witnessed the incredible sight of an adder swimming across the neighbouring Squabmoor reservoir.
Everything we strive to do focuses on how we can improve what we already have. In the case of Dalditch, we will struggle to better what already sits on our doorstep, but what we will do is promise to be a benefit to the area and its wildlife population.
We’ve always harnessed nature as a way of farming – never working against it. Here we see opportunities to encourage and develop habitats that already exist, by leaving space for nature, managing hedgerows for nesting birds and winter feeding, grazing to enhance soil health and leaving tussocky grass behind, maintaining trees and allowing growth to provide mixed habitats and encourage species diversity.
We’re here to build on our environmentally forward-thinking ethos, and with our new community and our environmental paradise, we look forward to giving back to the area, just as it gives us this bountiful, rich and beautiful ecosystem.
Picture credit: https://www.pebblebedheaths.org.uk/