Exciting things are happening at Woodoaks Farm near Maple Cross: they’re turning organic.
Discover more about what that really means, the history and legacy of the farm, their new dynamic mission and how the Colne Valley Park team are getting involved to support them.
History and Legacy
Woodoaks Farm is a 350-acre farm based just outside London near Maple Cross in the Colne Valley Regional Park. It is a patchwork of meadows, old orchards, ancient woodlands and hedgerows with a long history of farming. The existing family took it over in 1922 mixing arable and dairy farming with ‘modern day’ farming techniques. As part of her legacy, the current owner has now decided to bequeath the site to the Soil Association Land Trust, wishing the land to convert to organic, prioritising nature first farming techniques and restoring the biodiversity on the farm.
The owner Sally Findlay and 18th century Woodoaks Farm map.
Mission to Create a Dynamic Food and Farming Hub
Woodoaks Farm is now on a new path to create a vibrant food and farming hub to reconnect people to food and nature. The mission is to reduce the environmental footprint of food production, reverse the declines in wildlife and help people make healthier, less environmentally damaging food choices.
For years the farm has been part of the community, providing space to enjoy nature and refreshments. The intention is to offer fresh local and seasonal food which will be sold locally along with educational opportunities to explore where food comes from and nature’s role in nourishing people and planet.
The farm will continue to offer opportunities to enjoy nature with the addition of one new walk to the existing two walks through the meadows and ancient woodland. You can also enjoy refreshments at The Tea Shack and Creative Juices Brewing Company.
There is also a resident artist on the farm and a carpenter.
Walkers enjoying the beautiful woodland landscape.
Why Woodoaks Farm is going Organic
Organic is a sustainable way of farming and producing food that works with nature to support more wildlife, protect the soil, care for animals and help farms combat climate change.
Better for the Planet
Organic works with nature, not against it and farmers use natural methods that minimise the disruption to the environment.
In this way, organic farming can help:
- Slow down climate change
- Support more wildlife
- Create healthier soils
- Use less energy
Better for Wildlife
Did you know there is on average 50% more wildlife on organic farms? That’s more bees, birds and butterflies. With Britain’s wildlife species in sharp decline, organic farms play a vital role in protecting our pollinators and are beneficial to insects
Better for Animals
The Soil Association has the highest standards for animal welfare in the UK. Organic standards mean that farm animals are raised in conditions that suit their natural behaviour. This means lots more space to graze and roam, smaller flocks and herds, no routine use of antibiotics and no painful mutilations.
Meet Rose Lewis
Rose Lewis is leading the transformation of Woodoaks Farm on behalf of the Soil Association Land Trust.
The Soil Association Land Trust safeguards legacies of productive land, providing a safe haven and preventing land being lost from farming and growing. Land is donated by retiring farmers and landowners, often those with no dependents, who wish to see their life’s work continue into the future.
Rose Believes that changing the way we produce and distribute food is fundamental to solving the world’s most pressing social and ecological problems.
“At Woodoaks Farm, we have the opportunity to create new ways for local residents to reconnect with their food systems. From visiting the farm to see how food is grown, to buying produce that is grown right here on their doorstep gives us a chance to build understanding so residents can make more informed choices that are better for the planet.”
How the Colne Valley Park is Supporting this Venture
We have been delighted to support the farm and enhance the visitor experience for local people by helping put in trail posts, creating and improving a number of new trails through the farm and enhancing a number of the views from the farm to ensure that people can really appreciate the local landscape. Plus providing advice to help the farm acquire funding for hedgerow planting and restoring the barn. Additionally we have supported the farm events by organising and leading children’s activities.
Fiona, Events and Interpretation Officer for the CVP leading children’s activities at Woodoaks.
Inside the Black Barn.
Events and Activities at Woodoaks Farm
As part of the Colne Valley Festival Fortnight, Rose led a guided farm walk and she lead two more in September for #BigGreenWeek, during which they hosted a farm market.
On the last day of the festival fortnight the farm hosted Provenance Festival.
There is a self guided walk of the farm that you can download here.
You can easily access the Heronsgate walk, from the farm cross over the motorway at the footbridge and join the walk at point 4.
Last but not least: Woodoaks is a beautiful place to birdwatch.
Provenance Fest – part of the Colne Valley Festival Fortnight 21