17th February 2012
After over a year of lying idle, Upper Meend Farm is back to being a working farm. Farmers Tim and Sarah Stephens moved in at the end of last year with their Welsh ewes, Hereford cattle, horses, dogs and a cat called Beetroot. Lambing has started – new life is literally returning to the farm.
There is an enormous amount of work to do. Much of the fencing needs replacing, some of the barns need quite extensive repairs, as does the house. It is going to take quite some time to return it to the pristine state it was in when Ros and Arthur Edmunds were living there.
Twenty-one volunteers from the AONB braved one of the coldest days of the year to come and plant a new hedge. Both ground and hedge plants were frozen solid, so no planting was able to take place, but instead they did fantastic work on a huge stretch of hedge – removing dead wood and brambles, so that Tim can lay it. The volunteers have kindly agreed to return to the farm next week to attempt to plant the hedge again.
Kate met Winnie Williams, who was born on Meend Farm in 1921. Winnie was able to gave Kate a real insight into what both the farm and the village were like when she was growing up. She told Kate that the field with the old giant oak in it (the footpath runs through it and over the stone stile into Chris and Pat Jones’ field) was known as ‘The Park’ because it was full of trees. Kate and Ludo have now planted 20 or so trees throughout that field – a mixture of ash, oak, maple and birch (with more to come) – in an effort to re-create Winnie’s Park!
Next month will see the orchard being planted. With lots of helpful advice from The Gwent Widlife Trust the farm will have a small cider and perry orchard – although sadly the trees won’t be very productive for a few years.
The farm is also going to be part of the Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods scheme. 2000 trees will be planted in the spring and autumn of this year, increasing the tree cover by about 3 acres. The tree planting plan has been carefully worked out so it doesn’t impact on the grazing land, but instead, re-establishes old field boundaries and joins up mature hedges and stands of trees to make contiguous areas of arboreal cover.
There has been interest in hedge laying, tree planting and the planning of the orchard, so Kate and Ludo are running three courses next month for anyone who would like to learn more about these activities.
Full details of these courses are available at http://www.humblebynature.com/.