Hedge planting at the Soil Association’s Woodoaks Farm
‘It takes a community to run a farm’, says Rose Lewis, programme manager at Woodoaks Farm, in a video published today by the Soil Association. Rose is one of many local residents who, last November, helped planting hedges at a new Soil Association farm, Woodoaks Farm in Hertfordshire. The Woodoaks hedge planting campaign had raised enough funds for 2km of hedges at the farm, creating new habitat for dozens of species and making the farm more resilient to climate change. These hedges will help lock up carbon, improve soil health, provide homes for wildlife and help produce more food per hectare. As the hedge grows, it will continue to be a valuable part of the farm for hundreds of years to come.
The Soil Association’s hedge planting campaign is part of its New homes for wildlife program. ‘Over the past half a century, the UK has lost many of its hedgerows due to industrial farming practices’, says the pioneering organisation on its website, ‘We have the opportunity to transform British farmland and replant hedgerows – to support nature, and a safe climate’.
3 reasons why hedgerows are so important:
Homes for wildlife: An amazing 130 species of wildlife live and thrive in hedgerows. Harvest mice, hedgehogs, foraging bats and roosting birds are among the creatures that benefit from food and shelter created by hedges. Plus, the flowers and berries that fill these wonderful habitats attract pollinators and birds. Planting hedgerows at Woodoaks farm will create a habitat where wildlife can thrive.
Stronger soils: As we expect climate change to bring more extreme weather, hedgerows will act as a much-needed barrier at the margins of fields, preventing the fertile farming soil being lost by flash floods. Hedges have deep root structures which help to keep soil firmly in place. This reduces the risk of it being blown away during dry months and helping mitigate flooding in wet ones! One inch of soil takes over 500 years to form, so protecting this resource is important.
Better for the climate: 50% of UK hedgerows have been lost since World War Two, removed to make way for industrial agriculture. Re-establishing hedgerows can make a significant contribution to the UK’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The diverse range of plant life in hedges helps combat climate change by absorbing and storing carbon, which is also stored in the soil below. In fact, research shows that healthy soils store 3 times as much carbon as the atmosphere!
The Soil Association hedge planting video is here.
For more information on the Soil Association see here.
Image: 2km of hedgerows have been reintroduced to Woodoaks Farm, . (source: Soil Association, video still, 2022)