Bere Marsh Farm on the banks of the River Stour at Shillingstone is set to become the Trust’s national showcase for its holistic fusion of sustainable, traditional farming methods, habitat restoration and a dedicated education programme focused around the importance of food provenance.
Its idyllic 92 acres of wetland, grassland and woodland, rich in butterflies, birds, wildflowers and rare mammals makes it the perfect setting to commemorate the conservation icon, artist Gordon Beningfield.
Robin Page, executive chairman of the Trust said, “It is the perfect place for us where we can bring together everything we believe in whilst remembering Gordon and his devotion to the countryside. It represents our vision and why he and I decided to found the Trust.”
CRT has 15 properties throughout the UK ranging from dairy and arable farms to sheep, rare breeds and woodland centres. Running in harmony with these sites is the curriculum based MOSAIC education programme for children at a network of nearby primary schools highlighting where food comes from, the value of its sustainable production alongside wild flora and fauna and how they can play their part in connecting with nature and the wild world.
Estate manager, Elaine Spencer White, an agricultural consultant who is also a trustee of the CRT, said, “The setting is magnificent, the farmstead and land perfect but above all else it has a trailway, footpaths, car parks and a bridleway all running through it – in short, lots and lots of visitors walking by. You could not ask for more in terms of footfall and site awareness.”
It is hoped to turn the farm into an education and visitor centre.
To this end a small herd of milking cows, free range hens, a small flock of sheep, an orchard and a nursery will be introduced.
Existing barns and outbuildings will be specially converted to create the education centre alongside a dedicated art gallery devoted to the wildlife artwork of Gordon Beningfield.
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