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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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LBKA-planting-2016-1There’s a meadow in the making on our big field. Last week the London Beekeeper’s Association planted 1200 potted wildflower plants representing 21 native species on our big field. On Friday and Saturday, volunteers first prepared the area by mowing and raking, then introduced the new plants. The team also sowed the area with the seeds of the yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor), a species which can weaken and suppress more vigorous grasses, which should help the newly planted species.

We hope the new plants with thrive and provide excellent sources of nectar for both the honeybees at Mudchute as well as the many wild bee species living on the farm. These important pollinator species are essential not only for wild flora and fauna, but also play a vital role in producing the food we eat.

Many thanks to the all of the team at the LBKA, Tesco bags of help who funded the project and all of the volunteers who helped out including corporate volunteers from NOMURA bank, Costain, Cross Rail, Neal’s Yard Remedies Covent Garden.

To find out more about beekeeping, please visit the LBKA’s website and Facebook group. You can find out more about the important role pollinators play Save London Bees. Interested in what you can do to help bees? Find out more at http://www.lbka.org.uk/forage.html


A daunting task, but not intimidating to our volunteers!

A daunting task, but not intimidating to our volunteers!

Autumn is the prefect season to tidy up. With a wet spring and hot summer, brambles and bindweed have been growing vigorously across the farm and scrub has taken over in certain areas. Clearing these areas during Spring and Summer can be tricky as we don’t want to disturb nesting bids. But youngsters will have left by the nest now, so we can now safely cut back. Cutting at this time of year also means we can remove any overgrowth before invertebrates begin to hibernate. After doing an incredible job clearing up our ponds. Team RBS tackled our entrance near Mudchute DLR station and it’s already made a huge difference.

Would you be interested in lending a hand? Find out more about volunteering with your team or join us as an individual.