Close up of wheat

David and Marian Harding

David and Marian Harding

David and Marian Harding run a mixed farm in East Sussex. The farm boasts a wide range of habitats including wet grassland, rough grassland, arable land, ponds, hedgerows and deciduous woodland.

Much of the farm has been in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for the last 10 years and has recently been transferred into Higher Level Stewardship.

Wet grassland management has been a key focus of the work at Court Lodge Farm. Scrape creation, water level management and grazing provide suitable nesting and feeding conditions for lapwings. Ditches are cleared in rotation to create a succession of flowering plants and to provide suitable habitat for the fen raft spider.

Across the rest of the farm, arable margins provide hunting habitat for barn owls. Newly planted woodlands include the rare black poplar and hedges are cut on a 2–3 year rotation to provide nest sites for farmland birds.

The conservation work is integrated into the farm business and advertised through the drinking yoghurt that is produced on the farm. Future conservation plans include the creation of a reedbed in a naturally wet area of the marsh. It is hoped this will attract bitterns and marsh harriers.