Our pledge to plant a tree for every order taken is something we take very seriously at Made by the Forge. While the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has recently turned more to rewilding areas, restoring them to their once natural state, we were alerted to a major tree-planting initiative in Norfolk. To date, Houghton Hall Estate has already planted 14 kilometres of hedging and is committed to planting for many years to come. We were taken with the idea of supporting the Estate by sponsoring the planting of trees to reinstate lost hedging. The hedging would be interspersed with oak trees left to mature thereby mimicking how the landscape would evolve if we’d not controlled it for our own needs for centuries. This in turn will encourage more nature to thrive making available different habitats for a whole variety of species.
In terms of working the land, the Estate is completely organic and provides the majority of organic carrots in the UK’s supermarkets. If you buy organic carrots, the likelihood is that they come from North Norfolk. A completely organic countryside is rare for nature so we felt very drawn to this enterprise. The owners farm the Estate in a considerate and responsible way. So while we pay for the trees, the estate is paying for the tree guards, canes and the actual planting. Each of our customers has a tree which is planted just for them making this country just that little bit more natural.
Our trees will be planted across a beetle bank the Estate has established (image below). Beetle banks are refuge habitats for predatory insects and spiders. These banks can exist mid-field or at the field’s side. They don’t interfere with normal farming practice. The creatures they home in winter significantly reduce pest species in crops as long as they are able to spread out over the fields from the banks in spring. The field we are planting across will gradually become a smaller field joining open farmland. The tree planting will improve the beetle bank and will consist of mixed hedging plants and the scattering of oak trees. The planting is planned for February 2021.
The benefits to nature are plentiful; many more species of birds will be encouraged to make their nests nearby with an abundance of food available. The area is already home to numerous pairs of Turtledoves. This, in and of itself, if you know your birds and their conservation status, is already an extraordinary achievement. There are Yellow Hammers in abundance and the banks encourage Corn Buntings and older declining farmland birds to make their nests nearby. For all the right reasons, the Estate is creating a haven for a great many species while still working the land. It’s a win-win situation and we are proud to support it. We hope you will be too.