greenparkgrazing

This week, six ewes from the Mudchute flock have been taking part in a conservation grazing trial in Green Park. While they are far from the first woolly lawnmowers to the park, they do mark the return of sheep to the park for the first time since 1939.

IMG_9702The six ewes represent four native breeds from the Mudchute flock: the Oxford Down, Whitefaced Woodland, Southdown and Manx Loaghtan. Unlike commercial breeds who rely on feed supplements, these native breeds thrive on a wide variety of grazing including tougher grass and trample in the seed that has dropped from the wildflowers in the meadow. Traditionally, sheep would have been driven on foot to the parks to graze and breeds such as the Oxford Down and Southdown are among the native breeds developed within such range (that said I do not believe we have details of the previous flocks at the park).

IMG_9699

Our sheep will be helping to manage the meadow for wildlife by grazing scrub and coarser grasses and vegetation, allowing other species to thrive and improving biodiversity of both flora and the many animal species living within these environments. Mudchute itself is a site of metropolitan importance for nature; and here on the farm grazing is a key aspect to our habitat management. The grasslands we so often associate with the British countryside are only maintained by grazing and other forms of management. Without intervention, these incredibly diverse habitats would be taken over by scrubland and forest.

IMG_9704

Our six ewes have been commuting all week, travelling to and from Green Park from Mudchute daily with farm manager Tom Davis and Mavis the patterdale terrier. They seem to be enjoying their outings and opportunity to share a passion for farming and conservation grazing with the visiting public as well as those much further afield through the national and international press. You can see some of the highlights shared via our Facebook page.

IMG_9774

So far, #sheepweek looks to be very popular with park visitors. Many visitors have even made a special trip to see the sheep! We’re delighted the sheep have proven such a hit and have stimulated some fascinating conversations with visitors from all over the world. So many people have been making and sharing their connections to farming: some are meeting sheep and learning about native breeds for the very first time while others immediately recognise the sheep breeds and have farmed for many generations.

IMG_9756

We hope our visitors at the Green Park (and through print and the tele) will also come visit them here at home at Mudchute, we are just a short tube and DLR journey away and open all year free of charge.

We are proud to be a part of the project in partnership with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and The Royal Parks. The grazing trial is an aspect of the Royal Parks “Mission: Invertebrate” project, funded with help from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.


IMG_8380

IMG_5290A few weeks ago our goats moved to their new pen and works began to transform their former pen. We’re excited to share that staff and volunteers have been hard at work transforming that former goat enclosure into a fantastic new space for our ducks! As you might imagine, there’s quite a lot of work involved in converting the space including changes to the fencing, the removal of the former goat house, creation of a pond and lots of clearing! Many thanks to all who have helped out!

The works really took off today with a fantastic effort from a large volunteer group from Valero whose many hands certainly made the work lighter! It was all hands on deck as fences were lowered and new fences measured up and installed. Simultaneously, the team set to work clearing, leveling, laying turf, planning planting and putting up the new duck houses! Our ducks will be very happy to move into their new home once it is all finished and we hope our visitors will enjoy seeing them in their fantastic new space too!

Many thanks to team Valero for their help today and to all of our wonderful volunteers and corporate volunteer groups. If you’re looking to strengthen your team by working together outside of the office and help a great cause, why not bring your team for a day of volunteering on the farm. You can find out more about our corporate volunteering programme on our website. Or if you fancy lending a hand as an individual, you can find out more about volunteering at Mudchute here.