GOREN Farm was awarded a commendation in Britain's Most Beautiful Farm Awards earlier this year. It was given on merit of conservation, sustainability and profitability in farming and Julian Pady, who has been at the farm since 2001, although it has been in his family since 1955, is particularly proud of this. "It is a farm essentially, but hay has been made here since the 1800s, so there has always been a seed bank here of wild flower seeds," says Julian. "Since 2003, we have been cutting the fields particularly for the flowers, rather than when the grass is best for hay. "I suppose we are very unusual, compared to most of the gardens on the scheme, but a lot of people come because they want to establish their own meadows in their own gardens — maybe not on our scale," he laughs, "but they are looking at how we manage our meadows and how we manage our weeds. "They also want to know what grows in this area — they are usually people from the West Country who are looking for a local seed source that will grow well here." Julian is one of the only traditional seed sellers who harvest from a wild seed bank rather than propagating or buying in seeds, and visitors can buy the seed in person or order it on the internet.
People are very much encouraged to take their time walking around the meadows. "There is a lot of interest here — people also come to see the views," he says. "We mow footpaths and they can wander round at their own pace or have a guided walk which can last up to two-and-a-half-hours and concentrates on meadow management and biodiversity." The open days also give a percentage of the takings to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a cause which is dear to Julian's heart. "The bumblebee is the only bee that can pollinate some of our flowers," he says. "Clover is a good example — the honeybee does not touch that. Over last weekend, we found seven different types of bumblebee in the meadow, so we are hoping to include a bumblebee walk in future weekends."
He is are also looking at running special days for schools and next weekend Goren Farm will have a guided walk which focuses on the herbal properties of the meadows, led by a herbalist from Chard. "People are interested in the benefits of these, both for themselves and their livestock," Julian says. Continuing the traditional way of farming, Julian uses no chemicals on the fields, only farmyard manure. "Once we have cut the hay, we bring our Ruby Red cattle on and they graze the margins and regrowth. They do a very important job as they keep the grass low for the seeds in spring to germinate and they also tread in the seeds, which have been spread around while the hay is drying. "Over winter, they are fed on the hay we make — they seem to appreciate the hay with more herbs in, especially the ribwort plantain, and will actively seek it out. "Give them two or three bales, one with and two without, and they will go to the one with plantain in it first. It is the same with the sheep and the horses," he says.
The meadows are ever changing, not only from month to month but also daily. In June, there are tens of thousands of orchids — the southern marsh orchid, the common spotted and the heath spotted." says Julian. "They have also hybridised among themselves, so there are lots of different ones to see. "Now the cat's ear daisy is out, we have a blaze of yellow in the mornings and early afternoon, but by about three they have all closed up and it looks completely different." Looking out over the field in front of the house, where the stately 180-year-old lime tree is home to a huge colony of jackdaws, it is sad to think that 98 per cent of this type of wildflower meadow has been lost in this country. However, that only makes Goren Farm all the more special.