Local couple Judy and Ian Hallam are working hard to restore meadows and bring back biodiversity and wildlife to Limekiln Farm, Faulkland, in their very own Wilding Project.

Judy told The Journal: ‘When Ian and I moved to Lime Kiln Farm on a snowy day in late December 2009, there was just one field and a paddock remaining from its former purpose as a mixed arable and dairy farm. Over the years, several adjoining fields have come up for sale and at the time of writing, the farm totals around 15.5 acres, soon to increase to about 22 acres.

‘Our aim is to restore the meadows and manage the land for biodiversity and wildlife. The farm is now in Countryside Stewardship and we have been working alongside the NFU, FWAG, Farming Resilience and Somerset Wildlife.

‘The fields are mostly left to grow on during the spring and summer and are then late cut for hay and grazed down over the winter by local sheep and our own large native breed ponies. Diverse wildflowers are now appearing each year with a consequent increase in pollinators.

‘Other projects have included ditch and hedge restoration and (during lockdown), Ian planted several new native hedgerows along the fence-lines and is also working on a dead hedge for insects. In spring 2023, Natural England in conjunction with FWAG, funded the installation of four large ponds as part of their GCN (Great Crested Newt) carbon capture project. There is one pond in each of the fields, each served by a hibernaculum. We hope to see some newts appearing this year.

Judy explained how their biodiversity projects are helping bring wildlife back to the farm: ‘Wildlife on the farm is already benefitting. The Brown Hare population is flourishing; there are roe deer, foxes, badgers and a family of barred grass snakes as well as several types of bat, including Noctule and Pipistrelle. Birds of prey include a resident Kestrel, Buzzards and now Red Kite. Our Barn Owls have been breeding successfully for several years in their box (many thanks to Gary Kingman and his team!) and we shall be increasing the number of boxes for them around the farm.

‘Our current projects include sowing wildflower mixes and native tree planting. A huge vote of thanks is due to a valiant team of volunteers from CVWG who came here on February 11th to plant trees in the meadow we call Rookery (75 nests in the existing trees were counted in 2023!). Together, we dug in an avenue of 8 hornbeams, an English Beech at the edge of the spinney and 4 Grey Willow whips in the damp ground nearby the GCN pond. It was hard work but the company was great and we really couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you so much!

‘We are looking forward to welcoming CVWG here at the farm this year for other projects and several botany/wildlife walks.

‘We are so pleased to be able to share with you our enthusiasm for restoration of this small dot on the Somerset landscape for nature.’