Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Description

Denmark Farm is a unique 40 acre nature reserve in mid Wales, a living demonstration of the successful restoration of degraded farmland to rich wildlife habitat. If you'd visited our site in 1984, all you would have seen is bright green fields of rye-grass. No flowers, no hedges, or trees (they’d all been chopped down a few years before), and very little wildlife.
Gradually, nature was allowed to take back Denmark Farm – with a little help from the dedicated owners and volunteers who planted trees, created hedges, and a lake - and is now a wildlife haven. In 1984 there were only 15 species of birds breeding. Ten years later there were 45 species. With very few interventions or re-introductions, the wildflowers and butterflies began to re-colonise the fields, dragonflies returned to the ponds, and even otters and hares put in an appearance.
The site is now owned by a small charity, the Shared Earth Trust. We think our site is special, and want more people to be able to visit and experience it for themselves. We want to offer more opportunities for people to explore the woodland and meadows, for children to have fun pond-dipping and learning about wildlife, and for visitors just to sit and enjoy nature from our roundhouse shelter in the woods, or glimpse an otter from the lakeside hide. On a summer's day, the meadows are alive with the sound of bees and grasshoppers, and butterflies flit over a carpet of buttercup and yellow rattle.
This amazing natural environment doesn’t happen by itself. There is a continual programme of coppicing, hedge-laying, and scrub clearance in the meadows, as well as monitoring everything from birds to bats. We need to maintain the diversity of habitats to ensure as much wildlife as possible can feed, shelter and breed, and also keep paths open for visitors. We are assisted by a fantastic network of volunteers and supporters. Over 70 volunteers took part in at least one volunteer session last year, and we have a core group of 12 enthusiastic volunteers who support us on a regular basis. Last year, they all contributed an enormous 1780 hours to the site: managing the nature reserve, counting the birds, checking on the ponies, and looking after membership and IT as well as establishing a productive kitchen garden. We want to continue recruiting volunteers and giving them training in all the skills needed to look after this piece of wildlife heaven, from building a boardwalk to sharpening the secateurs.
We had almost a thousand visitors last year - many from the local community - taking part in training courses, workshops and children’s woodland activities, as well as visitors from further afield who stayed in our yurt and eco-lodge and enjoyed a relaxing holiday surrounded by nature. Our aim is to exceed these numbers during the next project, increasing the number of visitors, and engaging with even more volunteers.
This will be a project with education, community engagement and volunteering at it's core. We want sessions to be open to everyone. Research shows that time volunteering in wild places benefits both physical and mental health. We want people to experience this for themselves, and to discover that spending time outdoors is good for them as well as nature.
So what will we do with the funding?
We have just built and opened our new Wildlife Discovery room. We now want to create a programme of wildlife events for the local community, and run regular nature conservation activities for volunteers. In short, we want to connect even more people with nature! The funding will help pay for a Volunteer Co-ordinator who will recruit and support volunteers and lead regular conservation sessions, and organise a programme of wildlife events. The funding will also help to cover the expenses of volunteers who may otherwise not be able to visit, and provide more information for visitors. So if you love wildlife and want to help us to connect more people with nature - please vote for us!

The Shared Earth Trust

Moment of Pride

We have a fantastic network of volunteers who are passionate about the site. One of our most regular volunteers is Portia, 26. Whatever the weather and whatever the task she will be here smiling and enjoying herself. She says "I really love the atmosphere here at Denmark Farm, it feels like home"

Location: Ceredigion, United Kingdom