For a quarter of a century Gortrua had been allowed to grow quite wild.
When we came to live here in 1981 we simply fenced around the new shapes of the fields instead of attempting to reclaim the original shapes. Because of this it is possible to walk the perimeter of the farm amongst trees and bushes without entering the actual fields. These wild areas (in places over 40 meters) had developed over the previous 25 years.These are splendid refuges as well as corridors for a wide variety of wildlife. Needless to say we were a shoe in for the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) when it came our way.
Our ditches today, besides fine specimen of ash, oak, aspen, willow, sycamore and black poplar, are full of fruit bearing bushes such as crab apple, hawthorn, elder, blackthorn, hazel, dog rose and damson plums. These, as well as being exceedingly beautiful when flowering or fruiting, are a marvellous resource that could be organised into a small business venture.
This example of synchronicity finds a resonance in the philosophies of permaculture rather than organics.
On the western side of the farm is an area of 10 hectares refered to as 'The Bog'. Like so many of these fast disappearing wet land places it is not a bog at all, rather it is an area of 'Wet Grassland'. Over the years we noticed that the variety of species of plants seemed to be increasing. We believe this is due to the fact that the ponies grazed the very competitive grasses severely in the winter, thus giving new species a chance to thrive.
In 2001 we carried out a scientific study of this area comparing it with surrounding fields of a neighboring farm with similar soil type that had been drained. We found 129 species of plant on our fields as against the 9 in the adjoining farm, included in this large variety are 10 different types of orchid. This is a wonderful treasure literally growing under our feet.
For us conservation is not a static thing. Agricultural experiment has shown that fascinating diversity can be achieved through sympathetic management without sacrifice of area.
Often this experimentation has required the most difficult action of all:
Nature provides the answer to most questions, in its own time.
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