Sunflowers and Conservation at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire

posted in: Outdoors, Photography | 18

Getting outdoors and enjoying the countryside doesn’t have to include well-planned adventures or super human endurance efforts. It can be a simple day out at a local farm, learning about their business and getting a look behind the scenes. Living in Lincolnshire I am surrounded by fields that make up some of the most important agricultural land in the UK. Potatoes, cauliflowers, leeks, corn, barley, rape, and lots of other crops are grown. And so when Vine House Farm invited me to attend one of their open day events to see how they were putting conservation back into Lincolnshire farming, I jumped at the chance.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Sunflower

The highlight of the tour – sunflowers.

Vine House Farm is in Deeping St Nicholas, in the Lincolnshire Fenland close to Spalding and Bourne. It’s a long and narrow farm that has been in the family for many years, and that the current owner Nicholas took over in the 1960s. After conducting a couple of bird counts on his farm Nicholas realised that wild bird numbers in this part of Lincolnshire were declining fast, and so made the decision to turn his land into something that not only did its job as a business, but also made a difference to the wildlife population in the county.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Wildflowers

Wildflower borders.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Wheat for Animal Feed

Wheat for animal feed, where weeds are allowed to grow to help the birds thrive.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Tractor

Our transport for the “walk”.

The farm runs a number of open days throughout the year to coincide with the different seasons. In August it’s all about the sunflowers, and I’d been promised some time in a field of sunflowers so I grabbed my camera and a bottle of water, put on some decent shoes, and headed out into the Fens.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Bees

Bee hives.

My day on the farm started with tea (perfect!), followed by a short presentation by farm owner and conservationist Nicholas. He has made it his aim to turn his farm in Deeping St Nicholas into a haven for wildlife, and does what he can to allow insects and birds to thrive while still maintaining a successful farming business.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Red Clover

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Red Clover

Red Clover – good for the birds, the bees and the soil.

We took a look at the butterfly walk and in the grain stores before piling into a tractor trailer to head out into the fields. I did think this was going to be a farm walk but we actually did very little walking, making it perfect for visitors of all ages and fitness levels. We made a handful of stops in different parts of the farm where Nicholas and Tim talked about the crops, their organic farming, the bird seed production, and of course the wildlife.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Wind Turbines

Learning about wind power.

Nicholas has installed a number of wind turbines on his land, and also has solar panels, doing his bit for energy conservation as well as wildlife conservation. There is a bird hide and what seemed like hundreds and hundreds of bird and other animal boxes on the farm; different kinds of boxes for different kinds of birds, of course. They count the birds regularly so they know exactly what they’ve got breeding where. I also loved that they also allow weeds to grow in amongst the crop so birds have something to feed on.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Bird Hide

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Bird Hide

Bird hide and feeders, apparently a great place to go in winter.

Nicholas’ passion for conservation shone through as he spoke, and it is clear that his Grandson Tim has leant from that, wanting to share his knowledge about wildlife and farming at every opportunity. It was truly lovely to learn about birds from an eleven-year-old with such a keen interest in the outdoors.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Wild Flowers

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Chickory

Wild chicory in the field borders. 

The highlight of the tour was definitely the sunflowers, I think the whole group agreed with that. We were taken there by Nicholas’ daughter (and Tim’s auntie), who was equally as knowledgeable but didn’t get much chance to speak until then. The sunflowers were actually on another one of the family farms and so we were towed by this tractor for a couple of miles through the beautiful farmland, over one of the main drainage dykes and through fields of wheat and barley ready to harvest. And then we spent quite some time being allowed to wander through this amazing field of happiness – bright yellow sunflowers covered in bees and other insects, and ready to be turned into bird seed. I may have taken a few snaps!

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Sunflowers

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Sunflowers

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Sunflowers

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire - Sunflowers

Difficult to stop taking photos of these super happy flowers.

We returned to Vine House Farm where there was a barbecue of local produce prepared for us. We ate our fill of Lincolnshire sausages and juicy beef burgers before we had a look at the bird seed production line and had time to look at the farm shop and museum. The tour was advertised as two hours followed by the barbecue, but in all I spent four hours on the farm learning and looking around (including food). It was a fascinating insight into the world of farming with conservation in mind, and provided plenty of photographic fodder too.

Farm Walk at Vine House Farm, Lincolnshire

Vine House Farm Shop and Museum.

Vine House Farm run a number of open events throughout the year. The sunflower farm walk cost £10 per person and included the barbecue. For more information and dates of future events, visit their website. They also have a very well stocked shop on the farm and online, too, and produce bird seed for the Wildlife Trusts.

 

Vine House Farm invited me to attend their farm walk free of charge as they know I love to get outside into the countryside. Words and images are (always) my own. 

If you like my images that’s pretty cool, please ask me if you’d like to use them anywhere.

18 Responses

  1. Absolutely gorgeous! The sunflowers are definitely speccy, but I think I like the wildflowers even more – I didn’t know those little blue flowers were chicory. It’s really good to hear about farmers who are managing for wildlife in a world too full of monocultures and pesticides. And in this case it’s not only diversifying flora and fauna, but diversifying income streams as they are able to run tours, etc.

    • Thank you Jonathan. It is indeed good that some farmers are doing their bit. Vine House Farm actually started doing tours because people were asking in their shop if they could have a look around – they run open days too and are always fully booked.

  2. Oh your photos are amazing. Sunflowers are the most beautiful flower and to see so many growing together is just amazing and very special. I’d love my own field of flowers

    • Thank you 🙂 Yes they really are stunning. I have never tried to grow them myself, but if someone wants to come and plant my whole garden with them I’d be very happy!

  3. Love the photos, I can see why the sunflowers were so popular-you can’t help but smile when you see one. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with people who are passionate about what they do, looks like a fab day out 🙂

    • Thank you. It really is so nice to hear from people who don’t just talk about it but actually get on and do something about it – makes me motivated!

  4. How interesting to be able to see the actual workings of a farm, especially one with good environmental ethics as that one, and some wonderful sunflower photos 🙂

    • It was super interesting. I was very impressed how a love of birds has turned into a complete change of farming practice for this family.

  5. This is a gorgeous post. Loving the brightness of the sunflowers and the delicate wild flowers alongside. Looks like a great place to visit. Next summer may be busy for me!!!!

  6. Absolutely stunning photos! I love the sunflowers they look amazing. #chasingnature

  7. I live in central California (our country’s fruit basket) so I know a bit about what you mean. Nothing is better than visiting a real working farm to understand that your food does not in fact come from a store. Some of the biggest conservationists I have met, have been farmers. No one knows the land better than the men and women who depend on it for everything.
    #chasingnature

    • Hello California! I totally agree – those who work on the land know it better than anyone, and it’s really great to see some of them doing their bit for conservation while they strive to make a living.

  8. Wow what an incredible farm and well done to the farmer for doing his huge bit for the environment. It would be a dream of mine to run a small holding that is entirely run on renewable energy. Love your photos too, always so beautiful. #ChasingNature

    • It’s fab isn’t it? I know lots of farmers care very dearly about the environment, but it’s so nice to see one go out of his way to work at conservation alongside his family business. It was a pleasure to learn about it all.

  9. Such beautiful photos! Thanks for linking up with #ChasingNature 🙂 xx

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