At Dale Cottage Farm we aspire to maintain the simple, time honoured method of farming, continuing to improve and protect the traditional hay meadows and hedgerows.
In 2010 we entered into the Natural England higher level stewardship scheme and have since carried out extensive conservation works across the farm. This has included over 5000m of new fencing and hedgerow restoration to help maintain and improve the landscape character of the farm. The works will also help protect trees and plant species and encourage farmland birds, butterflies and hedgerow wild flowers.
The 10 year scheme includes planting new hedges and laying, coppicing and gapping existing hedges. We have also spread traditional wild flower meadow seeds over selected fields, totalling 12 hectares. As part of the scheme we worked with Natural England to source traditional timber gates and fencing and worked with local fencing & farming contractor Graham W Wright of Holymoorside, Chesterfield
The introduction of double sided stock fencing along selected hedgerows prevents livestock from eating the new growth each spring. This enables the hedge to thicken from the base to become dense enough to provide the necessary cover for wildlife. There is a noticeable difference in habitat 'between the fence lines' even after only a few years. The grass is thicker in the margins and briars and shrubs are left untouched providing food for wintering birds. Since enrolling in the conservation scheme we have seen a return of nesting Skylarks, Lapwings, Yellowhammers, Linnets, Tree Sparrows, Grey Partridge and Buzzards to the farmland and surrounding areas.