It is 20 years since the Woodlands Farm Trust was established to run the farm following the successful People Against the River Crossing campaign to save the farm and Oxleas Wood from being destroyed to create a motorway, and as part of their celebrations the farm are holding a Family Fun Day this Sunday, 10th September.
Hannah, the Education Officer at the farm wrote with details:
Woodlands Farm 20th Anniversary Family Fun Day
Sunday 10th September 11am-3pm
Woodlands Farm is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Join the celebrations by coming along to our Family Fun Day. Find out all about how the farm was saved 20 years ago as well as what is involved in the day to day running of the farm with a chance to meet the animals and find out about animal care. There also will be guided foraging walks and apple pressing. Our activities include children’s crafts, trails, vintage tractors and lots more for all the family. On the day we will be collecting memories from people who remember the farm from years ago or even memories of recent years. If you previously volunteered or assisted the farm please join us at our memories area to catch up with old faces and share your experiences at the farm. A fun day out for all the family! This event is free, but donations are welcome.
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on firstname.lastname@example.org
It’ll be fascinating to find out more about the events that led to the farm and woods being saved for the local community.
Thu 31st Aug 19:30 – 21:00 Join us for a bat walk around the farm. Woodlands Farm has a number of different species of bats, using bat detectors we will try to find some. The walk will start at 7.45pm. Please bring a torch and wear sturdy shoes. £6 adults, £4 per child. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.
Friday 1 September 8.00 pm Shrewsbury Park
• Walk is free to members, £2 others (but free to join on the day)
• Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather
• Children must be accompanied by an adult
• Walk lasts about 1 1/2 hours and torches are helpful
• Dogs must be kept on a lead
If you have mobility issues or enquiries please contact us on email@example.com and we will help you participate. The trail is a mix of paved path, gravel and grass.
If it’s raining, neither the bats nor us will be coming out!
Meet in the car park for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the Park at sunset using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
It’s been a good year for bats in my experience. The National Bat Monitoring Programmefield surveys in July went well. At Woodlands Farm volunteers detected a good number of pipistrelles, and also overflying noctules. We even detected pipistrelles in our Canning Town survey area which in previous years has had none, or perhaps a single pipistrelle detected at Canning Town Recreation Ground. It doesn’t help that the area has the noisy and polluting A13 running through it. There were also quite a few pipistrelles in the May Shrewsbury Park bat walk. As a bonus hedgehogs were seen at both the farm and Shrewsbury Park.
One of my batty highlights of this summer was a bat walk at South Mere in Thamesmead led by Karen Sutton the Biodiversity Team Manager at Thames Water. There are lots, and I mean lots of insects flying over and around the lake, and these attract a large number of bats: noctules and the larger bats and possibly Daubenton’s bats over the water and common and soprano pipistrelles in the lakeside trees. It was a spectacular display of agile bats flying close to us spectators, and so many that it was difficult to distinguish their calls on our bat detectors to decide exactly which bat species were present.
The highlight this year so far though was our waterway survey along the River Cray near Hall Place. For the first time since the Waterway Survey has been carried out here there were definite detections and sightings of Daubenton’s bats feeding over the river. They flit about very close to the water surface capturing their insect prey using their large feet or tail membranes. I recorded some of the echolocation calls using my new toy, a Peersonic bat recorder: the result is shown in the trace below which was analysed using the Audacity free audio editing software. I can foresee hours of fun analysing the details of bat calls!
Woodlands Farm‘s annual Summer Show is next Sunday, 11th June, between 11.00am and 4.30pm, and entry is free. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:
The Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show is on Sunday 11th June from 11:00am-4:30 pm.
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show. Come and meet our animals and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey. Relax in our café to live music by The Short ‘n Curlies, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts. Entry is free, donations are always welcome. All proceeds go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. There is no parking on the farm, please use public transport.
The Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show is combined with Open Farm Sunday again this year, so it will include farming related demonstrations such as sheep shearing and rural crafts.
Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day, and hundreds of farms across the country will be open to the public. Open farms are listed on Open Farm Sunday‘s website. The event is organised by the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) charity.
The farm is a registered charity and relies on events such as the Summer Show to raise funds to continue to operate. It’s their 20th anniversary this year, the farm trust was founded in 1997, so a good time to show your support.
A couple of weeks after the Summer Show the farm host the latest of their regular series of guided walks, the Mid-Summer Hay Meadow Walk. Hannah sent details:
Mid Summer Hay Meadow Walk
Sunday 25th June, 10am
Join us for a leisurely stroll through our Hay Meadows. In June the meadows are full of wild flowers and an array of different types of grasses. Find out how we manage these hay meadows throughout the year and about some of the lovely plants you will find there. The walk will start at 10am, meeting at the Green Building in the Farm yard. This event is free, although as a charity we do appreciate donations. Unfortunately, this walk is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
For more information, see our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Farm manages the grass in their fields either by grazing with their cows and sheep or by cutting hay with tractors and mowers in mid-summer and they don’t use any fertilizers or herbicides on the farm. This type of management enables the wild flowers and grasses to produce their seed ready to grow again next year, resulting in a large diversity of flowers, grasses and sedges in the fields and meadows, which in turn supports many species of insects. The Farm is part of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme which encourages farmers to manage their land sensitively, to benefit wildlife and the local environment. This walk is a good chance to learn more about the meadows and how they are managed, and enjoy some beautiful countryside.
There’s a chance to don your gingham, denim and Stetsons, grab your partner and dosey-doe at Woodlands Farm Barn Dances on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July. No skill or experience in barn dancing is required, and usually little is demonstrated at the dance: the steps and sequences are all called out by the band, the excellent Skinner’s Rats. Hannah from the farm e-mailed the details:
Woodlands Farm Barn Dances
Come along to one of the Woodlands Farm Summer barn dances, taking place in a real farm barn! With music and calling provided by Skinners Rats the barn dance is guaranteed to be a fun evening. Bring along your own food, drink and glasses and dine on hay bales to complete the rustic evening. The barn dances are taking place on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July from 7.30pm – 11pm. Tickets are £14. To book visit our website www.thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org
For more information, see our website or contact The Woodlands Farm office on 020 8319 8900.
The ecological surveys at the farm continue this week with May’s monthly bee walk this Thursday, 18th May, meeting at 2pm at the farm office near the scarecrows. At least seven different types of bee were spotted on last month’s walk: a white tailed bumblebee; garden bumblebee; field cuckoo bumblebee; common carder bee; honey bee; buff tailed bumblebee and a hairy footed flower bee, plus some others that were too quick to accurately identify. Contact Hannah on email@example.com for more details.
It’s a busy time at Woodlands Farm, with the lambing season in full swing and the lambing trained volunteers on a rota to support the ewes. This leads up to the Lambing Day fair on 9th April, Easter Holiday children’s activities and the start of the surveys of the farm’s flora and fauna.
Some 38 of the farm’s 70 pregnant ewes have given birth so far, and there seem to be more triplets this year. The first to lamb were the recently arrived, rare breed Manx Loaghtan which have striking black lambs, now old enough to be gambolling in the fields. The newly born lambs will be on display at the farm’s annual Lambing Day fair on Sunday 9th April from 11am to 4pm, entrance price £2 for adults £1 for children. The fair will also have the usual stalls, country crafts, children’s activities and café and barbecue.
The week after Lambing Day the farm will host its Easter Holiday events for children. Hannah, the Education Officer, wrote with details:
Easter Holiday Events
Tuesday 11th April Mad Hatters Tea Party 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm
The second in our series of events to celebrate 20 years of the Woodlands Farm Trust. Come along to our Mad Hatters Tea Party, dress up and join our celebrations as we make fun hats and prepare some food to start the party! £4 per child. Booking is essential, to book call 0208 319 8900. Don’t be late for a very important date!
Wednesday 12th April Marvellous Minibeasts 10am-12noon or 1pm-3pm
Do you love creepy crawlies and bugs? Join us as we find out all about minibeasts. We will be doing a craft as well as using magnifying glasses to see what we can find in the woods. £4 per child. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900. This walk is not suitable for buggies.
Thursday 13th April Egg-cellent Easter Trail Any time between 10am and 2pm
Join us for our annual Easter Trail. Can you find all the different Easter Eggs and Spring Animals hidden around the farmyard? Find them all and you will get your own Chocolate Easter egg to take home. Drop in any time between 10am and 2pm. £2 per child
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on firstname.lastname@example.org
Hannah is also the person to contact if you are interested in helping with the comprehensive set of surveys of the wildlife and plants at the farm. They start with the monthly bee walks to record the numbers and types of bumble bees, the next one of which is on Wednesday 19th April, then there is the first of the pond surveys, mainly looking for amphibians, on Thursday 27th April. Later surveys will include wild flowers, hedgerows, butterflies, moths, mammals and bats.
It’s half term next week, and as usual Woodlands Farm have laid on some interesting and educational activities for children. Hannah, the Education Officer, wrote with the details:
February Half Term Events
Wednesday 15th February. Print yourself a picture 1pm-3pm
Come along for our afternoon of printing. Come up with your own pattern or design and then using special paint and rollers you can print this picture onto paper to take home with you. £3 per child. Just drop in to make your own print.
Thursday 16th February Woodlands Farm Trail – Then and now 10am – 1pm
The Woodlands Farm Trust is 20 years old! This trail is the first in a series of events celebrating the history of the farm. Can you follow our photo trail and recognise the different places on the farm and how they have changed in the last 20 years. £2 per child.
Friday 17th February Get Wild in the Woods 11am – 1pm and 2pm-4pm
Come and join us in the woods as we learn how to survive in the wild. Have a go at shelter building, wild cooking over a fire and learn what animals need to survive. £4 per child
Age 7+ Booking essential, to book call 020 8319 8900
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on email@example.com
It’s the farm’s 20th anniversary this year – 20 years since it was established as a charitable trust with the aim of “promoting conservation, sustainable farming and education for the benefit of the community” – following People Against the River Crossing‘s successful campaign to prevent a motorway being built through the farm and Oxleas Wood. Every time I visit makes me more aware of what a loss that would have been.
Father Christmas has a busy weekend coming up in Shooters Hill: he’s visiting St Nic’s Fête at Christ Church on Saturday and Woodlands Farm Christmas Fair on Sunday.
St Nic’s Fête runs from 4 to 6 pm on Saturday, 3rd December. There will be a visit from St Nicholas who will bring a gift for all the children present. There will also be Mulled wine, mince pies, homemade cake, crêpes, biscuit decorating, tombola, a treasure hunt, children’s activities, a Christmas gift stall, and local craft stalls. Then there is a children’s disco from 5.00pm. Entrance costs £3.00 per child with a £5.00 cap per family.
Maureen sent me details of Woodlands Farm‘s annual Christmas Fair on Sunday 4th December from 11.00am to 3.00pm:
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Christmas Fair. Come and meet Father Christmas, sip mulled wine whilst browsing stalls of local produce and crafts for early Christmas present ideas, or relax in our café while the kids enjoy crafts and games. A great festive day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are welcome – all money raised helps us to care for our animals. A great family day out!
No parking on site – please use public transport.
While at the farm there may be a chance to see some of the farm’s new arrivals: British White cow Clover’s new calf and two other recent additions to the farm’s herd.
Apple Day, mammal surveys, bumble bee walks, new rare breed sheep and half term activities for children: busy times as usual at Woodlands Farm. The farm’s annual celebration of autumn fruitfulness, Apple Day, is next weekend on Sunday 16th October between 11am and 4pm. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:
Join us for a celebration of traditional British apples at Woodlands Farm, 331 Shooters Hill, DA16 3RP, on Sunday 16th October 2016, from 11am-4pm. Discover and buy many different types of traditional British apples. There will be a variety of activities including a treasure hunt, apple pressing to make delicious juice, stalls selling local produce, including our own honey and home-made jams, cakes and try some Kentish Cider. A great day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are welcome and go towards the running of the Farm. No parking on site. Please use public transport.
I’m looking forward to trying some of the less common English apple varieties, such as Pitmaston Pineapples perhaps, and to stocking up on my favourite Egremont Russets. Maureen also sent me the photo below from a previous Apple Day.
The farm has continued its surveys of the local flora and fauna through the summer, including bat surveys, wild flower surveys, bumble bee surveys and mammal surveys. The next mammal survey is this week: the Longworth traps will be set out on Tuesday afternoon, starting at 3pm, and collected the following morning, Wednesday 12th October, at 9am. This year’s mammal surveys have been pretty fruitful, with wood mice, bank voles and common shrew found. On the most productive survey 10 out of the 15 traps deployed had something in.
The bumble bee walk is held each month, the next one is this Thursday, 13th October starting at 2.00pm. Anyone interested in helping out with these surveys should contact Hannah Ricketts, the Farm’s Education Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org
Hannah also runs the half term activities for children at the farm, and sent me details of those running this month:
October Half term activities for children
Wednesday 26th October – Make an insect hotel
1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm. £4 per child
Come along and make an insect hotel for your garden. This will be a fabulous place for the insects to hibernate during the winter. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900
Thursday 27th October- Autumn Art Day
1-3pm, £2 per child
Drop in for a fun afternoon of autumnal art! Get crafty with leaves, paint or whatever you fancy! As well as the rest of the art activities, there will also be a limited number of items to decorate for an additional £2. No need to book, just drop in.
Friday 28th October – Halloween trail and craft
11am-3pm £3 per child
Drop in to join the fun as you go on a Halloween trail round the farmyard as well as having the chance to make your own spooky craft to take home. Why not dress up as well to make the day an even creepier day out! No need to book, just drop in.
The farm’s new sheep are from a rare breed called Manx Loaghtan, which originate in the Isle of Man. They are characterised by brown wool and can have up to six horns, though the ewes at the farm only have two each.
There seem to be plenty of bats around this year. The NBMP field survey at Woodlands Farm in July detected quite a few pipistrelles and some noctules. Pipistrelles have also been detected at the Wide Horizons Constitution Rise woodland, Manor House Gardens, Hall Place and Hervey Road sports field. Even normally sterile Canning Town had more than its usual solitary pip in this year’s NBMP survey. However the waterways survey along the River Cray at Hall Place once again found no Daubenton’s bats.
Woodlands Farm’s bat walks will be held on Wednesday 24th August and Thursday 1st September. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:
Join us for our annual bat walks. Starting with a brief introduction to bats we will then go on a walk round the farm trying to see and hear bats using bat detectors. You will need sturdy footwear, suitable outdoor clothing and a torch. Children must be accompanied by an adult (not recommended for children under 6 years). £6 per adult, £4 per child (under 16 years). To book go to http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-woodlands-farm-trust-8448478250
Meet in the car park for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the Park using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
The walk is free to members and £2 for non-members (but you can join on the night). Please wear appropriate shoes and clothing for the weather and paths. Children must be accompanied by an adult. And dogs must be kept on a lead.
The walk lasts about 1 1/2 hours and a torch is useful.
The car park may still be open but not at the end of the walk so remember to leave cars outside of the Park. If you have any mobility queries please contact us on email@example.com and we will help you participate.
If it rains neither the bats nor us will be coming out!
There’s another chance to take a guided tour of Woodlands Farm‘s hay meadows this Saturday, 2nd July, when the farm are taking part in National Meadows Day. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:
As part of National Meadows Day there will be a guided tour of the stunning hay meadows at Woodlands Farm. The farm has almost 30 acres of traditionally managed hay meadows bursting with wild flowers, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and other wildlife at this time of year.
The meadows are managed as part of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.
The walk will be for about 2 hours on Saturday 2nd July 2016 and will start in the farmyard at Woodlands Farm at 1.30pm. If you like meadows and flowers this is the walk for you.
This is the second year that National Meadows Day has taken place: it is planned to hold it each year on the first Saturday in July, when the country’s wildflower meadows are at their best. It is organised by a number of organisations led by Plantlife, a wild plant conservation charity. There are about 100 events taking place across the UK including guided walks, open days with family activities, kids craft days, scything activities and photography walks. They are also holding a National Meadows Photography Competition with a deadline for entries of 31st August 2016.