On our Farm – Meadow Restoration

Our family Farm which is just 2 miles away supplies our Kitchens and Hotel restaurant its lamb and beef. It’s at the core of everything we do. As a family of farmers, looking after the land, our place, is something we’re deeply committed to.

A few weeks ago, apprentices from Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership were joined by students from the University of Cumbria to plant over 2000 wildflower plugs for meadow restoration on our Farm.

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John Dunning, our founder, spoke to the group about the history of our Farm and the beginnings of Tebay Services Farmshop & Kitchen. Tebay Services, both north and southbound, is located on our upland farm, Chapel Farm, in the parish or Orton, where the Dunning family have farmed for many generations.

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The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme aims to unlock and reveal the hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales, enabling more people to connect with, enjoy and benefit from this inspirational landscape.

The students, who are studying Conservation, are working to restore the 2.46 hectare field with Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership as part of Meadow Life, the Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s National Lottery Heritage Fund project.

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We caught up with Bob Day, our Farm Manager to find out more about the project. Bob heads up our Farm team, and has been with us over 30 years since he left Newton Rigg College as their top student.

“The meadows at Coat Flat are traditional hay meadows that have always been farmed without modern fertilisers, and have retained many wildflower and herb species. They are farmed in a way that protects these plants and we make hay on them in such a way that allows these plants to shed their seed on the land during the hay drying process.”

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“Our Farm purchased the meadows at Coat Flat in 2015 and they were already in a hay meadow conservation scheme. We have continued that work and have now committed to a new scheme that will further protect and enhance the work already done. The farm already owned land around these meadows that were originally part of the same small estate. We intend to convert these pastures to traditional hay meadows as well, with the support of Grassland Conservation Officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Christa Nelson.”

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“The plug planting that took place this summer was done on what will be the donor field for the conversion. The students planted the few flower and herb types that were missing, so that next summer when these flower and seed, they will be harvested and spread on the pastures to be converted. In 20-30 year’s time, we’ll really see the impact of these restoration projects.”

Nationally, 97% of flower-rich hay meadows have been lost between the 1930s and the mid 1980s. Without direct intervention species-rich grasslands would all but disappear within the next few decades.*

We’ll revisit the meadow next July to see how the project is progressing, check back on our blog here for the latest stories from our Farm.


*Source – Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Meadow Life project https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/about/what-we-do/living-landscapes/wildlife-conservation-projects/hay-meadow-restoration

For more details about the project please contact Christa Nelson, Grassland Conservation Officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust on christan@cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk

If other landowners or community groups in the Westmorland Dales area are interested in haymeadow restoration work on their land, please get in touch with Cumbria Wildlife Trust on 01539 816329.


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