This project is about improving the accessibility of a section of farm trail that’s been free and open to the public for 20 years. Visitors with limited mobility, and sensory-sensitive audiences, plus people of all ages, will be better able to connect with nature. The work also creates more space for wildlife on a farm that produces good, wholesome food, using natural and holistic farming principles.
Here, Alison Park explains how FiPL funding has helped make their trail more accessible to more people, helping people see that its possible to produce good food whilst farming with nature:
The trail is just under two miles with a small section that is flat and step-free. You can always see a huge variety of plant, animal and bird life here changing with the seasons and co-existing with the livestock.
The different ways we use to reach and engage visitors with our ethos include flower fairy doors for children to find and encouraging people to spot woodland flowers for the Woodland Trust’s citizen science project. Faerie and bogart houses on the island in the pond, continue our theme of country folklore which began with a ‘beware of little folk’ sign at the start of the farm trail when it opened 20 years ago. Lore would have it that fairies and boggarts are everywhere in nature and are part of a healthy planet.
The farm track begins on an old occupation lane – made when rights of access were curtailed during the period of Land Enclosures (from around 1500s to the late 1800s). Its straightness tends to encourage people to pass by quickly and we wanted to get people noticing nature straight away on this part of the walk. We also wanted to incorporate a new hedge that’s been planted and bring a bit of awe and wonder about what might live in the hedge, and what it might be like to be in a hedge.
We are using the funding to plant a 40ft willow hedge and tunnel, made with locally grown, living willow. It will soon become part of the longer new 240m mixed-species hedge and there will be places to rest, gaps and windows to look out of at different heights. We hope it will be inviting to people with sensory, physical and mental health challenges. A willow bee sculpture, is a reminder of how important bees are as pollinators on a farm.
An oak bench made by a local forester was part of the funded work. It is close to the willow tunnel, and placed to provide a view across the landscape. We hope people will think about what it takes to work with nature to produce food. Lines from a poem by Sizergh forester and writer inspire further contemplation.
At the end of this section, and on the eastern side of the pond, funding has provided an arbour.
All in all, there’s more of the trail to enjoy for those with limited mobility and more prompts for everyone to immerse their senses in noticing nature and all the benefits that brings. We hope being absorbed in the landscape surpasses what can be communicated through conventional interpretation boards and leaflets.
"I am grateful that FiPL saw the value in my project which is a bit unconventional in farming terms.
I was encouraged and enabled to pursue something creative that will enhance the enjoyment of those who are less mobile or understand the world differently.
It was a straightforward application with a person on the end of a phone to help."
Alison Park, Low Sizergh Barn.