Trill Farm's Wonderful Ancient Woodland

2 Jun 2019 | 0 comments

According to the Woodland Trust, ancient woodland is home to more threatened wildlife than any other land-based habitat in the UK. Just two per cent of the UK’s land area is now covered by ancient woodland, making it crucially important that what remains is properly protected.

Trill Farm's woodland is full of deadwood and nutrient rich soil laid down by centuries of falling leaves. This habitat provides home and food to a vast array of insect species, that in turn feed birds, bats and mammals including dormice. 

Our woodlands really are a wonder. We have a number rare species of bat – the Grey long eared, Barbastelles, and Lesser horseshoes, along with Soprano and Common pipistrelles, Serotine and Brown long eared bat.

We have recorded 32 different bird species on the farm so far, including several birds on the RSPB’s red list of concern – House sparrows, Song thrushes and Yellowhammers - and many from their amber list.

Three social groups of badgers can be seen at dusk, and groups of roe and sika deer roam the land. Otter spraint (droppings) and paw prints have been recorded along our stream, though this elusive creature has only been spotted twice in the flesh since we’ve been here. 

We sit within a huge web of connections among the rocks, the soil, the water, through to the micro-organisms, the plants and animals, and of course, humans. As a species we need to recognise how we affect, and are affected by changes in any part of the system. 

We recognise the importance of protecting and maintaining this incredible environment through championing sustainable woodland management, minimising our energy use, and being efficient in the use of our materials and resources. This means we make use of naturally fallen timber around the farm for fencing, repairs and also for our DIY and woodland workshops, which we also use to educate about the importance of the woodland.

Foraging for Mallow (Malva Sylvestris)

1 Apr 2019 | 0 comments

Common Mallow is an attractive species that has been used throughout history in food and medicine. In traditional folk medicine, common mallow was often used for making medicinal poultices and soothing ointments. It was also harvested as a nutritious wild edible. It is used in Trill Farm’s popular Summer Tea. Mallow can be found in cultivated land, grassland, roadsides, scrub and wasteland and is ideally harvested in March, April, July, August, September.

Botanical Description: Purplish, pink flowers adorn a coarse, hairy stem with lobed, crinkly leaves that resemble ivy. The plant grows up to 40-120 cm. The seeds appear as edible flat discs.

Parts Used For Food: Leaves, flowers, roots and seed or ‘nutlets’. The seeds may be poisonous if eaten in large quantities.

Food Uses: Common mallow yields disc-shaped seeds, or ‘nutlets’, that are edible and snacked on like ‘cheeses’. The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach, added to thicken soups, or deep-fried like green wafers. The flowers and buds can be pickled.

Traditional Medicine Uses: Common mallow was once a ‘cure all’ of Medieval herbal medicine. It was used to treat many conditions from stomach ache to problems during childbirth. In Britain and Ireland, the plant has been used as a laxative, to cleanse the liver, to cure blood poisoning, and to treat urinary problems, rheumatism, heartburn, coughs and cuts. The mucilaginous roots in particular were used to make poultices and soothing ointments.

If you would like to learn more about foraging, come and join Robin Harford on a series of seasonally focussed foraging walks through the landscape of Trill Farm. On your foraging walk, you will be shown how to identify a variety of wild edible plants, as well as learn the different plant stories, their nutritional values, their folklore, mystery and history. Find out more on our website.

Robin is a plant-based forager, ethnobotanical researcher, and wild food educator. He has been teaching people about their local edible landscape since 2008.

Stay at the Stables

2 Apr 2019 | 0 comments

As spring comes, we welcome more and more visitors to the farm, on courses, for lunches and suppers, and to the Stables, our ecologically renovated guest house.

The foraged flowers in the rooms become more diverse and colourful as the spring progresses, and the breakfasts more varied with the produce available, although we continue to make use of all that we preserved in the summer and autumn to see us through the impending ‘hungry gap’.

Our preserved fruits from the farm and hedgerows are served with oats and yogurt from our local organic dairy. Chris keeps us well stocked with fresh sourdough from the Old Dairy Kitchen, to go with our homemade jams and summer honey from our hives. Our small flock of chickens lay more eggs, to serve with kale from the garden, or to bake in to our signature herb frittata.

Despite the warmer, sunny days, there is a definite chill in the air after sunset. The wood burner remains well stocked with firewood chopped by Rich and Jon from fallen trees in our woods. There are plenty of our Gotland wool blankets to wrap up in, and the underfloor heating provided by a ground source heat pump keeps everyone toasty until we can fling open the windows again to allow in the warm spring sunshine and sound of the birds.

Although the reservoirs are full after a winter of rain, ready to supply us with spring water throughout the year, the footpaths and tracks slowly start to dry out, making exploring the surrounding fields and woods a (slightly) less muddy experience…!

We hope to welcome you to the farm soon, and hope you enjoy your stay.

Mariel manages the farm office, guest house and shop, and looks after Romy’s flock of Gotland sheep, amongst other things. 

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