Green Lancaster field trip: a day on the farm

Green Lancaster members on an ECO Wild field trip.

On Saturday 20th May, Lea and Eve from the Green Lancaster Team took a group of 16 students on the bus to Hollin Bank Farm near Coniston in the Lake District. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for making the most of the £2 bus fare cap!

When we arrived, we met our hosts Holly, Megan and Katherine who gave us a tour of the 120-acre farm. Hollin Bank Farm has been a traditional Lake District farm for at least 100 years. The current work focuses on restoring traditional and ecological practices to allow sustainable and resilient landscape management for the health of the farm and the community. They also aim to become financially stable in terms of providing food as a farm business. Their work includes replanting hedgerows, mending old dry-stone walls, introducing mixed grazing, enhancing the ancient woodland as well as looking after their organic vegetable garden and animals: hens, ducks, geese, bees, sheep, cows and pigs. They are currently looking for people for residential volunteering this summer to help with haymaking.

After our tour of the farm, we got to work on our first task of the day: a woodland floor survey. As the woodland used to be grazed by sheep but hasn’t been formally managed for a long time, they wanted to get a better picture of the current state of the ancient woodland. We split off into groups and spread out around the woodland with quadrats and ID sheets. We placed the quadrats in various locations and recorded the number of species and their percentage coverage of the quadrat area. Species included: wood sorrel, holly, common feather moss, haircap moss, sphagnum moss, common Tamarisk-moss, violets, and stitchwort. Over lunch we gathered our data and discussed the methodology and reproducibility of the data, as well whether the recent hot and dry weather had affected our data. We reflected on how lush and green the woodland looks, with many kinds of mosses and grasses, as well as flowers and old oak trees.

Our second task of the day was to work as a group to repair one of the fallen dry-stone walls. Firstly, we had to gently peel off all the moss (to put back on later) and organise the stones into piles of different sizes. Katherine taught us the local method of building where two people build together, standing either side of the wall facing each other to build two parallel walls which come together at the top and are filled with small stones in the middle for stability. It took some practice, but we got the hang of it in the end! It was very rewarding to see something stable we’d built up from a pile of stones!

At the end of this enriching day on the farm, we caught the bus back to Lancaster from the farm entrance. It was great to experience how quickly and easily you can get around the Lake District by public transport and how affordable it is with the £2 single tickets.

As the weather warms up, why not get involved with Green Lancaster? We have two upcoming ECOWoods sessions on campus on 31st May & 16th June, as well as a field trip to Wild Garsdale Pike on 3rd June. We’re also having an end of year Summer Fest on the 26th June!

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