This blog is titled so as it pretty much sums up how a conversation with my dad a few months ago, to get the sustainable agricultural ball rolling at Claypit hall. I have lived on this farm for the 22 and 3/4 years that I have existed, and largely speaking I wouldn’t change it for the world. Unfortunately for my family’s peace of mind, though, there is one thing I have been wanting to change in more recent years, and because of that I have been prodding Claypit hall in the direction of conservation agriculture. After a few nudges we will be going into the mid tier scheme under Countryside Stewardship this year, which funds farmers to conduct farming practices that are more beneficial to wildlife than more conventional practices. It may cause a lot of headaches in the future, as those who know the scheme probably understand all too well, but I’m hoping the benefits in terms of funded habitat creation for farm wildlife will more than make up for every headache and hastened heartbeat that we’ll encounter.
Once I plucked up the courage to ask dad about entering the Countryside Stewardship Mid-tier scheme, whilst offering to sort all the paperwork out for him (foolish of me, maybe), it didn’t take long before we had a very friendly RSPB farm advisor sitting at the kitchen table, planning where wild bird seed mix, pollinator strips, managed hedgerows for wildlife, and more would be scattered around the farm. It was an exciting if not slightly stressful time, and I just hoped that we would see this through and get an application in OK for this September.
To cut a long story short, the application is now in, and I cannot wait to get cracking on planting some wildlife habitat in the ground. We now wait in trepidation for the form to be returned, with corrections to be made I’m sure, and instructions on what to do next. At each exciting stage and perhaps sometimes stressful step, I aim to report on the goings on around the farm, the troubles of which I’m sure there will be many, and successes of which I hope will come just as if not more frequently than the prior. Countryside Stewardship is often spoken with anxiety by many farmers, and with good reason, for the piles of paperwork, meticulous inspections, and general added stress of growing unusual crop mixes on the farm.
Hopefully in sharing this experience, I can give people who don’t farm an idea about the hard work that goes into farming for wildlife, and farmers something to encourage them to do the same – or laugh as we struggle in the years that are to come – who knows!