Ecology - River Bourne Community Farm

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About the farm


The River Bourne brings water, fertiliser and warmth to the farm. From medieval times to the 1950's, local farmers harnessed these natural resources by diverting the river across the meadows to protect the growing grass from frost and providing it with nutrients and water. The resulting lush pasture was prized for fattening cattle and sheep and making hay.

The farming system based on the watermeadows at River Bourne Farm has fallen into disuse as industrialised farming methods that rely on artificial fertilisers and specially bred grass varieties have taken over.

We plan to restore part of the watermeadow system over the coming years. The remnants of the undulating watermeadows are still visible across the farm especially on a frosty winter's day. Occasionally parts of the meadow still become flooded and the wild grasses flourish in the warm chalk stream water.

Try dipping your wellies in the watermeadow puddles to feel the warming properties of the water……..



The River Bourne is home to Kingfishers, Grayling and even the occasional Otter. The watermeadows support Barn Owls, Roe Deer and Meadow Brown butterflies. Listen carefully as you stroll along the hedgerows and you will hear songbirds from the tiny Goldcrest to the great Mistle Thrush proclaiming their territories on the farm. There are as many shrubs in the hedge banks as there are birds sheltering in them. The shrubs provide a wealth of berries and nectar throughout the year. We are recording sightings of wildlife on the farm so do let us know what you have seen.

The chalk in the soils and surrounding hills was formed from the skeletons of tiny sea creatures tens of millions of years ago. Their skeletons were made out of calcium like our own bones and give the chalk it's white colouration. Flint was formed from sea sponges that lived even further back in time. We will be working with Salisbury International Arts Festival to make way-markers from the rocks and stones on the farm and other green spaces in Laverstock.

In the 1950's Lapwing, Redshank and Water Voles thrived on the farm. All these species have disappeared in recent years. We are establishing quiet havens where water birds, mammals and other wildlife can return but this will take years of careful management to
achieve. If you would like to help with this work let us know through the  contact page on this website.

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