The local chalk downs were once covered in vast areas of ancient grassland, richer in plant species than any British woodland, and very important for the farmers who have grazed livestock here for thousands of years.
Semi-natural calcareous grassland like this is a top priority habitat because so much of it has been lost to modern farming, and because of its importance to an astounding range of wildlife.
Re-establishing lost habitatsWe have carefully recreated more than 70 hectares of chalk downland - a precious habitat previously destroyed by intensive cultivations and chemical fertilisers. In our rejuvenated downland we now enjoy an abundance of wildflowers and the fauna they support.
When Peter and Juliet Kindersley took ownership Hundred-Acre Field it was growing arable crops. They wanted to return the area to chalk downland, a declining and delicate habitat, and a characteristic of the Berkshire Downs. The field was seeded with a conservation grass and wild flower mix. That was back in the late 1990s.
Today, flowers growing here include Lady's Bedstraw, Birds-foot-trefoil, Small Scabious, Clustered Bellflower, Quaking Grass, Salad Burnet, Betony, Greater Knapweed, Burnet-Saxifrage, Wild Marjoram, Wild Basil, Common Rockrose, Ox-eye Daisy and Hoary Plantain. In spring you can see huge numbers of Cowslip stretched across the fields, a sign that the balance to the soil has been restored and this is once again a thriving habitat- a world away from the monoculture it once was.
Permanant pastureOur permenant pasture is managed carefully to maintain plant biodiversity. Using mowing for hay and grazing rotations to ensure maximum benefit for wildlife, and we have been rewarded by the mass return of butterflies and other insects, as well as Brown Hare and many threatened farmland birds, making this habitat their home.
During 2010 the field's first orchids were recorded and we now have thousands of Common Blue butterflies and their rarer cousin, the Small Blue adorning the wildflower hay meadows on the farm.
Skylark, Lapwings, Whitethroat, Linnet, Yellowhammer and Meadow Pipit are all nesting. Bees and butterflies thrive here, and the open space is loved by the hares. This abundance of downland wildlife is a testament to the vision of Peter and Juliet's vision and the farming team who take good care of the farm.