Last month a group of locals met up with Lynne Kenderdine from Devon Wildlife Trust, who gave much expert advice on the management of Lot 7 in terms of biodiversity and conservation. There was discussion about how the central area of flat land could be mown to allow use as an amenity area, while leaving surrounding areas “rough” as habitats for small creatures such as hibernating bees and also creating “scrapes” to encourage invertebrates and wading birds. Other exciting suggestions included planting wetland-loving trees such as willow, alder and birch along the stream, planting a commemorative oak, boxes for bats and dormice (did you know the latter lived in trees?) and keeping an area “topped” to encourage the spread of wildflowers. Moving on to the orchard, discussion was had about “steeping” the hazel hedge at the top of the field, grazing sheep possibly between November and February to keep ground cover under control, maintain biodiversity and even up the ground, managing the brambles, creating a hazel coppice in a corner at the top, and of course, looking after and using the orchard.
It was a brilliant and expert introduction to the amazing variety of creatures and plants that inhabit our community land. Lynne’s final piece of advice was keep it “native” and take care of the provenance. So much food for thought in all this to help form the basis of a long term management plan. The five Lot 7 trustees are currently working hard to set up a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) and once this is done will then have time to work on the fun bits!
A couple of weeks later, we had further help from the Devon Wildlife Trust: this time it was the children’s turn to have fun and learn what lives and grows in the orchard area. Education officer, Millie Gardener, (pictured at the back) was brilliant and kept young and old busy with loads of creative activities, investigating habitats, exploring sounds and smells, and working together to discover just what a lot is going on in the seemingly peaceful orchard. It was a perfect evening – warm and mellow – and a good reminder of how lucky we are to secured this land.
And the orchard is not just for bug-hunting! It has now been strimmed and prepared for apple picking by Tom Owen, a local tree surgeon, and the apples collected by Tim Walker of Bulkamore Orchards (below), a prize-winning cider maker of Bulkamore Farm, Rattery. We are waiting to hear how much they weighed.