Our Wildflower Propagation group (Les Fleurs Savage) meet on Wednesdays 9:30-11:30. This pilot project is led by volunteer Nick Hall who has a background in teaching and horticulture has been taking part in a wildlife survey group over the past year. Here at Bosavern, Nick, Jocelyn and Kate have raised knapweed, aquilegia, foxgloves, forget-me-not, verbena to sell to others in the community and have plans this Summer to propagate certain plants for the National Trust to support habitats needed by rare butterflies and bees. Plants are for sale at our farm shop (10-5, Mon-Sat) and at the local farmers’ markets (Sennen on Tuesday mornings and St Just on Saturday mornings).
Biodiversity (the range of species) has been reducing nationally and internationally at an alarming rate in recent years. This has consequences for us as humans and for all the other species in the food chain. At Bosavern we see it as our job to look after the tiny plants and insects on our farm because they look after us by pollinating the plants we eat. We were awarded the Royal Horticultural Society prize c/o St Just in Bloom for our pollinator planting in 2022. Here are our top tips:
- choose plants which are great for pollinators
- take part in ‘No Mow May’ and notice how many more insects and birds come to visit
- cut brambles and stinging nettles as little as possible – the butterflies love them!
- leave an area for twigs and logs to decompose
- create a beetle-bank
- don’t use chemicals on your land
- dig/disturb the soil as little as possible
- put up bird boxes and bat boxes
- take part in wildlife surveys e.g. garden birdwatch
We have pollinator flower beds sited across the farm so that insects can stop to feed before travelling further. We also have two biodiverse wildflower meadows; Carn Meadow and Hotel Field which provide a vital resource for pollinators including honeybees, bumblebees, solitary and mining bees, butterflies and moths. Penwith Landscape Partnership have installed semi-wetland ‘scrapes’ at the lower end of the Allotments Field and in our Community Woodland. These are designed to be boggy in periods of high rainfall but to dry out in the hotter season. This changing habitat supports very specific, rare species.
By managing the habitats in a way which supports diverse plants and insects, we support the whole ecosystem including soil health, the water cycle, ensuring clean air quality and the tiny creatures which pollinate our plants and which also provide food those animals higher up the food chain such as fieldmice, voles, owls, kestrels, deer, humans… and plenty of rabbits! All of which are frequently spotted here on the farm.
Bosavern Community Farm was involved in the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Wheal Buzzy project for the second year running as part of our ongoing work to improve habitats for pollinators and West Cornwall wildlife biodiversity. Cornwall AONB is home to over 190 species of bee with 120 of these being solitary mining bees. Solitary mining bees (also known as a differ bee) are gentle loners that nest in burrows in the ground. The Farm has been cultivated without pesticides and other chemicals for decades, helping to provide a refuge for biodiverse flora and fauna, such as the buffish mining bee pictured below, or the tawny mining bee depicted below by our 2019 Wildlife Art Competition Winner, Freddie.
The Farm’s participation in Wheal Buzzy included growing over 1,000 wild flowers from locally collected seeds (much of it was gathered here at the Farm), comprising of flowers such as purple vipers bugloss (which has previously been described in the Cornwall Flora as possible native to St Just), as well as fleabane, weasel’s snout, birds-foot-trefoil and wild angelica – these enhance our existing wildflower meadows even further. By teaming up with the Wheal Buzzy project, we hosted ‘Buzzy Days’, special volunteer sessions where people came and helped sow and plant out hundreds of native wildflowers to enhance the foraging areas for solitary and mining bees.
We have also developed a Nature Trail around the Farm and ran guided walks during Farm Open Days to identify some of the rare bees and wildlife.