Farming, Wildlife and Conservation
Woodlands Farm is a unique city farm as its size of 36ha which is around the size of 50 football fields, allows it be run as a traditional working farm. We use our fields to produce lamb, pork and beef as well as hay. We manage the grass in the fields either by grazing with our cows and sheep or by cutting hay with tractors and mowers in mid-summer and don’t use any fertilizers or herbicides on the farm. This type of management enables the wild flowers and grasses to produce their seed ready to grow again next year.
By doing this we get a huge diversity of flowers, grasses and sedges in our fields and meadows, this in turn supports many species of insects. This includes great variety of butterflies and moths as well as bumble bees, honey bees and solitary bees. In fact some of the habitats in the fields are so good we were 5 years ago allowed to sign up to Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme which is run by Natural England (the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England). This scheme encourages farmers to manage their land sensitively, to be of great value and benefit to wildlife and the local environment. For more information come along and have a chat at the farm or check the HLS website,
Throughout Woodlands Farm we have a network of hedgerows which form our field boundaries; in total they cover about 2 miles! These natural wildlife corridors provide an excellent place for birds to nest, mice and voles to use for shelter and food sources for a variety of invertebrate species. These hedgerows have to be regularly managed during the winter months through hedgelaying. The farm uses the traditional South of England style for laying hedges. For more information about hedgelaying as a traditional skill visit the National Hedge laying Society’s website.
In addition to the hay meadows and hedgerows the farm also has many other interesting habitats including ponds and woodlands. Clothworkers Wood is a remnant of ancient woodland which originally would have been joined to Oxleas Wood. Although only small it comprises of a number of different tree species including oak, ash and the wild service tree. Other plants species include native bluebells. The two wildlife ponds provide wonderful habitats for amphibians and invertebrates. Management of these habitats mainly takes place during the winter months to avoid disturbing breeding wildlife, and from spring to autumn volunteers undertake wildlife surveys to monitor the diversity of species on the farm. Our wildlife records are shared with Greenspace Information for Greater London (GIGL) who collates wildlife records from throughout the capital.