Since purchasing Thrussendale Farm, also home to The Private Hill, over 5 years ago I have focussed much of my attention on trying to improve the wildlife habitats on the farm. To try and keep the species that were already here and to encourage new species to come to the farm and make it their home.
During the planning application phase for The Private Hill I was asked by our local Planning Authority to carry out a detailed ecological survey of the area where we wanted to establish our luxury boutique geodesic dome holiday business. Just to be absolutely sure that our plans wouldn't disturb, or interfere with, any existing wildlife habitats.
This encouraged me to go even further, to try and find out what we actually had on the wider farm, and brought me into contact with an amazingly talented man, Richard Baines, who heads up Yorkshire Coast Nature. As a hugely respected local Ecologist Richard helped identify areas of particular interest on the farm and helped develop a comprehensive plan to turn our tiny little farm into an emerging private nature reserve.
Of course nature and farming are often so intertwined. I therefore have a fabulous opportunity to make my farm not only commercially viable as an agricultural unit but, at the same time, to manage this in a way that complements my passion for wildlife preservation and an inherent love of the countryside that I am lucky enough to have responsibility for.
A small, highly skilled, and truly energising team has since developed with specialisms, and great knowledge, in flora, fauna, and most importantly wild birds which play such an important role in making the English countryside so special.
Guests at The Private Hill are able to witness, first hand, some of the direct benefits our ecology work is having on the landscape around us and it's always a thrill to hear their tales of what's been seen as they explore the farm.
Key short-term priorities include establishing a nectar flower mix area for bees and butterflies, a growing crop of winter bird food, providing supplementary feeding for our farmland birds, restoring species rich grassland, creation of hay meadows and new wood pasture and finally new tree planting to increase general woodland habitat. A transformative and comprehensive plan that the team believes will dramatically improve our ecological standing as a small North Yorkshire farm business.
The success of all this work will of course be judged by future generations but, in the interim, guests of The Private Hill will be able to see for themselves the progress we are making and visit the various habitats on guided tours of the farm led by Richard and his truly inspirational colleagues.
Take a look at his thoughts on the farm, and surrounding countryside, written earlier this year: http://www.yorkshirecoastnature.co.uk/blog/417/wildlife-of-thrussendale-farm