Mowing grass at Winkleigh’s ‘community trees’

Yesterday we took the Wheatland Farm brush cutter mower and hedge trimmer to the community biodiversity area near Winkleigh sports centre.

In a normal April Maggie might previously have spent a morning at a Devon Countryside Access Forum meeting. But she decided not to reapply when her term ended, so as to free up more time for Winkleigh’s local environment group. So it’s nice to be able to do something, despite the covid lockdown. And doing more locally to our part of Devon is something we said we’d do in Wheatland Farm’s 2020 Charter, celebrating our awards for sustainable tourism but also extending and reassessing what we do.

Over recent years, Winkleigh’s biodiversity group, which grew out of the ‘green drinks’ Maggie helped start back in 2011, and which Kim Melhuish still runs, has planted trees on a soil mound behind the sports hall.

We’ve been fairly full-on with our own young trees at Wheatland Farm too (back in 2008 we planted 200), so despite helping with the odd planting session, and a few maintenance efforts here and there, we’ve not been much help.

But the new brush cutter mower changes that – it’s the perfect machine to keep the paths under control. It can handle rough ground and tussocky grass, yet is small enough to fit in Wheatland Farm’s van, and manoeuvrable enough to do the tight corners.

More regular mowing will make the trees much more of an amenity feature, and it won’t harm the wildlife either – the mower cuts high so it’s almost like a light grazing.

Ian used the hedge trimmer to take back some of the brambles threatening to overwhelm the trees.

Sizing up the bramble bashing task….

Good thing he came along, as it took his strength to manhandle the mower through the narrow gateway.

We might have to move this gatepost eventually!

Once this covid lock down is out of the way, maybe all the tree volunteers should convene at the top of the mound for a celebratory picnic. That’s something to look forward to.