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Just about to buy a field - what do we do with it?

(39 Posts)
shockingsocks Wed 13-Jun-18 19:07:58

Just about to exchange on an 8 acre field by our house. Haven't got a clue about maintenance etc. Could anyone recommend any good books or online resources to bring us up to speed.
Have no particular plans to keep it as a field - quite fancy planting trees and creating a wildlife area over time - are there grants for this - how do I find out?
Any tips and advice gratefully received! Thank you

willowpillow Wed 13-Jun-18 19:11:07

Not sure about grants but if you look at the woodland trust they give packs of saplings to create woodland. When I was setting up a forest school area I ordered a pack and the smallest was 40 saplings! I think they might also do hedgerow plants but not too sure.

iwishicouldbelikedavidwatts Wed 13-Jun-18 19:11:56

native woodland smile bluebells smile

iwishicouldbelikedavidwatts Wed 13-Jun-18 19:12:48

also forest gardening/permaculture smile

OhMyGodTheyKilledKenny Wed 13-Jun-18 19:16:10

Create an orchard?

Keep goats or sheep to save mowing?

Theleftparing Wed 13-Jun-18 19:18:48

You need to learn some field management skills sharpish.

Ragwort, for example is an offence to allow to grow.

You will need to have fields topped or grazed unless you want unruly meadow in a matter of weeks.

8 acres is A LOT.

You could rent it out to horse people.

ReservoirDogs Wed 13-Jun-18 19:19:25

I am assuming your solicitors have checked agricultural restrictions tgat may be placed on it.

Batfurger Wed 13-Jun-18 19:20:10

Does it have an agricultural tie?

8 acres is a lot OP, you might need to find some sort of agricultural forum or local farmer to help. Wow, you are in for some work. I have two acres and just to stop it becoming overwhelmed with brambles is difficult if you're not going to have it grazed.

Have you got a tractor?

What's in the field now?

choppolata Wed 13-Jun-18 19:22:37

Look online to see if you have any self-sufficiency groups near you. They will have plenty of ideas!

Knittedfairies Wed 13-Jun-18 19:25:08

Why are you buying a field if you don’t know what you’re going to do with it?😄
You may have to get planning permission; a wood or wildlife area could be considered a change of use.

IlikemyTeahot Wed 13-Jun-18 19:25:45

rent it out x

welshmist Wed 13-Jun-18 19:28:16

We took in donkeys in the summer when the weather was mild, what a hoot they were. We had geese and hens, great fertilizers. Fencing is very important. Oh and a lawn tractor if you want to cut paths through it.

Theworldisfullofgs Wed 13-Jun-18 19:31:13

Heritage Apples, plums, pears..

Batfurger Wed 13-Jun-18 19:35:16

How much money have you got to spend on it once it's yours? Orchards aren't free, you'd be looking at thousands of pounds to plant that.

Is it well fenced?

Ihaventgottimeforthis Wed 13-Jun-18 19:35:51

Unruly meadow is fantastic for wildlife! Not managing an area for agriculture is not a change of use, so permissions are not needed. You just won’t be able to claim any subsidies (but to do that you’d need to register with RPA, get a holding number etc & basically sign up to all sorts of Defra-related beurocracy).
I would go with your personal preferences - do you like trees? Then allow it to revert to wood, either naturally or with help from Woodland Trust. If you like flowers & butterflies, then manage it as s traditional hay meadow - you’ll need a big mower and maybe someone with sheep, donkeys or horses who can graze it a bit over winter.
You could plant an orchard- again Woodland Trust will help. You could split it up for allotments?

dairyfarmerswife Wed 13-Jun-18 19:37:46

I think it is unlikely that you would be eligible for grants, you would need to be registered with the Rural Payments Agency, I would have thought. A local land agent should be able to advise further.

Turning it into a garden would constitute change of use, trees may not.

Is it currently in grass? As pp have said, 8 acres is a relatively large area. I would suggest renting out what you cannot manage, if practical. Grass, and weeds, grow for fun. Thistles and docks will seed and spread, as will ragwort. All would make you unpopular with neighbours. Ragwort is a notifiable weed, though there seems little done to enforce its control these days. It would be simple enough to sell the grass as a standing crop, purchaser to mow, bale and remove. Livestock and horses would need a decent water supply and good fencing.

I am intrigued as to how you came to buy it. You must have paid more than any local landowners were willing to pay, or there is some disadvantage to the land making it unsuitable for agriculture.

Betaday Wed 13-Jun-18 19:38:17

Camping! If parts are flat. The sunny field in Kent is a good example of how it can be done well.

Betaday Wed 13-Jun-18 19:39:04

I’ve no association, just went their the other weekend and found it lovely

Andthenshesaid Wed 13-Jun-18 19:42:36

Who buys 8 acres with no idea what to do with it ffs grin

Chuck some hay bales in the middle, a rope swing and let all the local kids come and play there

wellhonestly Wed 13-Jun-18 19:44:46

Lease it out as allotments?

Ihaventgottimeforthis Wed 13-Jun-18 19:52:20

If you wanted to turn in into a wildlife project, you could contact your local parish council to see if they’re interested in supporting a local nature reserve, or the wildlife trust? I’d keep it ungrazed & uncut & then watch for barn owls, invest in a strimmer to keep a lid on brambles and cut some little paths, then just wait and see what happens. & also plant a dozen fruit & nut trees in a bit of it 😁

shockingsocks Wed 13-Jun-18 20:29:40

Thank you everyone - I bought it because it's by my house, it's lovely, I have dogs and I like wildlife. And I had some spare cash. Didn't seem remotely crazy to me - felt like the best thing I've done in years! Currently used mainly for grass harvest and a bit of horse grazing but when I said "I don't know what to do with it" I did kinda mean the stuff like the ragwort, brambles and whether it's OK to allow it to revert to meadow etc. Thank you Ihaventgottimeforthis - you have echoed much of what I was thinking - I just hoped there was some books or similar that go through the basics of land management. And yes some kind of tractor will be needed at some point, but I'll probably just have to contract until I can build somewhere to house it.

Ihaventgottimeforthis Wed 13-Jun-18 20:47:02

You can start with but really it depends on how much time & money you have to spend on it. An area of land that is simply left to its own devices would be a fantastic rewilding project, just see how it changes over the years (and block your ears to anyone calling it a mess!)
You should prevent anything invasive like Japanese Knotweed or Himalayan Balsam from spreading; you don't have to remove ragwort, just prevent it from spreading to other peoples land. Lots of insects like cinnabar moths really love it. And obviously if you want to make hay from it then it is not a good thing to have.
Even if areas do get overrun with brambles, just think of the nectar in the spring, safe nesting places in the summer, and berries in the autumn!
What about bee-keeping? Either yourself, or finding someone local who might have a hive or two they would put there?
You are very lucky :-)

Lordofmyflies Thu 14-Jun-18 20:49:24

I've just bought 2 acres next to our house. We've planted an orchard of apples, pears, hazelnut and cherry and created a football pitch for the kids on the flattest bit. some has been sown to wildflower meadow and some as an entertaining area. Best Buy ever!

Theworldisfullofgs Thu 14-Jun-18 22:13:20

I'm v envious...

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