‘Throughout all these Human Lands 

Tools were made & Born were hands 

Every Farmer Understands’ 

An excerpt from Auguries of Innocence, by William Blake 

Volunteers play a vitally important role by helping us to improve habitats to support a greater variety and abundance of wildlife on our farms. But we need to equip our inspiring volunteer teams to be able to go out into the fields and woods and make a difference.  

“If you have the right tools, a job can be done more accurately and with greater ease and safety,” said Stuart Tunstall, a carpenter who volunteers on Lark Rise Farm in Cambridgeshire alongside his 14-year-old son, Ben.  

The father and son are among a team of volunteers that, in recent months, have kept the farm’s meadows healthy by using scythes to cut hay, cleared invasive Himalayan balsam to prevent it outcompeting native plants on the Bourn Brook, coppiced willow (read about the benefits of this here) and repaired a footbridge to maintain access to the meadows 

Conservation work like this requires a wide range of tools, including axes, billhooks, saws and scythes. 

Stuart added: “Ben and I are really enjoying volunteering on Lark Rise Farm. Ben is doing this as part of his bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. It’s good to get young people involved in physical environmental work. It opens their eyes as to what the countryside is and why it’s important to conserve it. The farm’s volunteers work really well together. It’s great to meet like-minded people.” 

On Bere Marsh Farm in Dorset, Karen Holliday enjoys monitoring wildlife and has also been getting involved in habitat improvement work such as laying and maintaining hedges. 

Karen said: “Having the right tools makes physical work accessible to more people. I need to be careful with my back but on Bere Marsh Farm there are plenty of tasks that I can get involved in thanks to the tools we work with and the variety of projects taking place. 

“I enjoy contributing to the projects on the farm because across the countryside nature needs a helping hand to get back to where it should be.” 

Her husband, Dave Holliday, loves to scythe because it offers an opportunity to switch off from the outside world. “I’d never done scything before I took part in a training session on Bere Marsh Farm this summer. I like the repetitive physicality of it – you can lose yourself in your thoughts,” he said. 

“I have also enjoyed hedge laying and helping to put up fencing. Without the right tools you can’t really do the work. 

People are really beginning to realise that if you farm in a more natural, regenerative way you reap the benefits. The way the CRT community is trying to turn things around is the future – it assists wildlife, food production everything. As volunteers we enjoy the chance to get involved in physical work in the outdoors and to meet like-minded people. We discuss these issues, which helps spread the message further afield.” 

  

How you can help 

We are currently running twelve appeals to support the countryside in our Twelve Gifts of Christmas campaign. This includes raising money to buy tools to be used by our expanding volunteer teams for conservation work on our farms. You can make a donation from yourself or as a Christmas gift for friends and family at Conservation tools for volunteers.