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Ecology

The Green family have been custodians of the beautiful land in Chesterblade on the edge of the Mendip Hills in Somerset for at least seven generations. Today, Ed and his wife Anna, together with the rest of the Chesterblade Hills team, manage the ecology of the land with the mission statement Where People and the Natural World can Flourish Together. 

To address the challenges of climate change and natural habitat loss, the three main guiding principles of this mission statement are to:

  1. Hold as much carbon and water in the landscape as possible
  2. Create as much great wildlife habitat as possible
  3. Help people reconnect with the natural world and with themselves

Across the 730 acres, a third of the farm is dedicated to calcareous grassland, copse and scrub conservation, a third consists of herbal grasslands, and a third comprises cropping using regenerative farming principles.

Harvested crops and grasses are conserved on farm and sold off farm to supply an anaerobic digestion plant producing green energy. All the land is dedicated to one of three schemes: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Countryside Stewardship or a 200-acre England Woodland Creation Offer natural regeneration woodland creation project. We are also partnering with The Woodland Carbon Code on this project. New native hedgerows and small areas of native broadleaf woodland have also been planted to add to the mosaic and support natural ecology.

In the last few years, 40 new ponds have been created here in the upper catchment of the River Brue to help mitigate flooding in the lower catchment and Somerset Levels as well creating new wetland habitats. The most recent work saw a 15 pond wetland system created. These new wetland features now attract numerous insects and amphibians, and the associated birds that swoop across the water surfaces to feed. Increasingly, ducks, heron and lapwing can also be seen.

Elsewhere, the longer vegetation since destocking cattle from the fields has given rise to more small mammals that in turn have brought the arrival of more birds of prey such as red kite, buzzards, kestrels, sparrow hawks and barn owls. The long vegetation has increased numbers of insects and invertebrates, attracting more small birds to eat the insects and seed heads. Clouds of butterflies and moths can also be witnessed in the summer meadows.

To monitor and survey these habitats, expert animal and plant species groups routinely visit the farm to record the changes that are happening. Over 200 species of plants have been recorded so far and a series of new arrival insects, amphibians, birds and mammals. Sightings are recorded onto the iNaturalist app and uploaded to the Somerset Environment Record Centre.

To help make all the above possible, buildings previously used for livestock have been repurposed into artisan and cottage industry workspaces for local artists, craft makers and creators, and the larger more rustic barns repurposed for camper van conversions and upcycling of old vehicles. Many of these enterprises are embryonic or start ups, and the location on the farm allows the tenants to work in a naturalistic space with all the physical and mental wellbeing benefits this brings. As well as providing much needed workspaces for our local rural economy, the income from these workspaces allows the farm to increasingly manage the land with the natural world at the forefront.

If you’d like to connect with us on any of the above land-based work, or chat to us about our ecology ethos, please contact Ed on 07966 510552 or email chesterbladehills@gmail.com

The farm has also created the Green Heart Venue and Wild Group Camping facilities, providing off grid eco-therapy and gathering spaces for groups that want to disconnect from the modern world in a beautiful and calming environment. 

Click on map below to enlarge it

Chesterblade Hills