Conservation and improvement of biodiversity are central to what Woodlands Farm is trying to achieve, and their efforts have been recognised by accreditation to Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. Their conservation work includes management of grazing land as traditional hay meadows, restoration of farm woodlands to benefit wildlife and the laying of new hedgerows. If you’re interested in learning how to lay hedges using traditional methods then go along to the farm at 10.30am tomorrow, 9th December, when there’s a Farm Conservation Volunteer Workday.
There’s also a chance to find out more about the farm’s conservation work on Sunday 16th December at 11.00am when they are holding a Farm Conservation Walk. As their poster, included below, says:
Join our Farm Manager and Wildlife Officer for a walk around Woodlands Farm to look at wildlife habitats across the farmland and to find out about how we manage the farm for the benefit of wildlife conservation.
£1 per adult, 50p per child, farm volunteers free.
Please book in advance. You will need sturdy footwear and suitable outdoors clothing. Please leave a contact number when booking so we can reach you if the weather is unsuitable. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Meet at the Education Centre.
The farm’s new neighbour, the Equestrian Centre, is close to completion – the project plan on their fence shows that building work ended in October. It is a state-of-the-art facility, with a well-equipped equine therapy centre, stabling for up to 24 horses, a deep, swim-through pool for horses and an indoor dressage arena with spectator seating. There was a lot of local opposition to the plan to build the centre on Metropolitan Open Land, and concern about its impact on the farm’s conservation work. I’m sure the farm will be monitoring this closely, and on the plus side maybe they now have a nearby buyer for their hay.
There are also safety concerns about horses crossing the busy Shooters Hill Road – a new crossing has been built, though it looks to me more like a Pelican than a Pegasus crossing – and worry about the ecological and other impacts of horses riding through Oxleas Wood.
It is expected that Hadlow College, who will be running the centre, will move in during spring next year. However before they start using the facility one of the council’s conditions is that:
a community use scheme shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The agreement shall allow for a minimum of 82 hours of community access each week and set out how residents of the London Borough of Greenwich will have priority access to the community facilities.
It’ll be interesting to see whether, and how, things change after the farrm’s new neighbours move in.