Group members: 19
Area of group (Hectares): 5500
Lead Farmers: Andrew Ingram and Will Carr
Facilitator: Alison Cross
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas Common farmers manage a range of natural, historical and cultural assets comprising a large area of the south western end of the Chilterns AONB and surrounding landscape. It includes the Hambledon River Valley, and its chalk stream the Hamble Brook, along with woodlands and arable fields interspersed with commons, villages, scattered farmsteads and designed parklands all associated with the plateau and dipslope. Running from the north east to the south west of the area is the chalk scarp with its burial mounds and hill forts and species rich chalk grassland. The scarp provides spectacular views over a wide area including the clay vale to the west where more intensive agriculture dominates, fields are large and hedgerows few.
Within easy travelling distance of London, Reading and Oxford, the area is prized for recreation and tourism and provides many public rights of way including the part of the long distance footpath Shakespeare’s Way which runs from birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon to the Globe Theatre in London.
Our emphasis is on creating a pollinator network and connecting habitat across a cross section of the Chilterns.We will be looking at wood, hedge, pond and grasland management, margin and flower rich plot establishment and management. We will identify opportunites for restoration and creation in order to restore a functioning ecological network. Best practice such as Integrated Pest Management will not only benefit pollinators but hopefully boost beneficials and help improve water quality.
To better manage priority habitats and species such as lowland calcareous grassland, and ancient and native woodland, Striped Lychnis moth and rare arable flora we are:
- Looking to secure funding to help with habitat management
- Upskilling through training events
- Developing a deer management programme
- Working with Plantlife and Butterfly Conservation
Our First Year
Despite Covid restrictions we have been busy undertaking a range of activities. These include:
- Bird surveys across 14 farms. Highlights include Corn Bunting and Grey Partridge
- Supplementary bird feeding over winter.
- Working with the Bisham Barn Owl Group to erect Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Little Owl and Kestrel boxes
- Training on a range of topics including carbon budgeting, natural capital auditing and ponds for Great Crested Newts
What We Are Doing Now
- Working with CEH to see how the E-planner tool can help us build landscape scale connections of wildflower rich habitat.
- Looking at how to better manage hedgerows across the cluster.
- Sowing Dark Mullein seed to benefit the rare Striped Lychnis moth
- Three farms working together on new CS applications.