Sam Bullingham farms at Taw River Dairy in Mid Devon, where has set out on a comprehensive plan to restore and regenerate habitats across the 300 acre farm. Alongside the farms 100% pasture fed jersey dairy cows, Sam keeps a whole host of different animals designed to complement each other in creating ecosystem niches, taking lessons from rewilding projects like Knepp Estate. Native beef cows, including Belted Galloways and Devon Ruby Reds, graze the rough grasslands and wood pastures alongside Dartmoor ponies. A small group of British Lobb pigs follow behind, moved on every couple of days to ensure they root up just the right amount of land to allow wildflowers and tree saplings to get a foothold. Elsewhere, geese, sheep and even emus can be found grazing in small pockets of the farm.
The farm animals are central to the management of habitats that bring in a whole world of wildlife. Sheep are used for the first stages of restoring wildflower meadows, or ‘culm grassland’, an incredibly rich habitat that is restored by spreading seed from the few remaining fragments of other areas of culm nearby. Soon after, the cattle are brough on, creating the rough and diverse pastures that, in time, are hoped to attract wildlife marsh fritillary butterflies and snipe. Nearby, Sam has planted areas of silvopasture, with clusters of native trees and shrubs designed to mimic natural regeneration. Goshawks breed in the farm woods, hobby’s hunt dragonflies over the ponds and marshes, and great clouds of goldfinches and linnets rise p from the herbal leys left to seed through autumn.