On the farm
The Johnson Family have been proud Leicestershire farmers for three generations, and as a family we have always had a great appreciation of the land and all who we share it with. We believe farming and conservation go hand in hand, and on our traditional family farm we currently grow wheat for Weetabix, barley and beans, and run a flock of breeding sheep. Over the past thirty years Phil’s heartfelt enthusiasm for birds and wildlife has led to the creation of new habitats across the farm, providing essential food and breeding habitats for birds and mammals.
Helping our birds and wildlife
Our passion for birds is evident on the farm, hedge planting, pond restoration, hedge laying, overwintered stubbles, supplementary feeding, grass margins and nest box erection are just some of the many practices taken to expand the wildlife habitats here. We work closely with the RSPB who have conducted many bird surveys to give us a great picture of the numbers and species of birds, both of which have increased over the past thirty years. We are home to an extensive variety including lapwings, sky larks, red kites, tree sparrows and house sparrows and have seen a large increase in the brown hare population.
Simple practices around the farm can really help our birds such as ensuring a puddle in the yard for the house martins and swallows, nesting material and spinning seed cleanings on the margins for additional food in periods of harsh weather. We farm sympathetically with the birds, presenting fields with different crops next to each other, hedge trimming only in the depths of winter, cultivating late in the season to leave the stubbles to glean and moving to spring sowing leaving feeding and breeding habitats for the birds.
Sharing the Farm
In addition to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) surveys, our local bird watching group constructed over twenty bird boxes in spinneys around the farm in order to provide nesting sites for our farmland birds. These are monitored each year and give us a great picture of species of birds nesting, and are targeting red list species such as the tree sparrow. Our local ringing group have erected kestrel and owl boxes, we have had bee hives, badger surveys, hedgehog research…. to name but a few. In short, we are just so pleased to share our wonderful environment with anyone who enjoys it, and the creatures who inhabit it, as much as we do!
At Rectory Farm we take great pride in our ability to balance food production and the need to conserve and enhance the environment. The farm has been involved in many government stewardship schemes, the aim of which are to improve the beauty and diversity of the countryside. Across the farm, substantial wildlife improvements are being made through the creation of grass strips within arable fields, improved hedgerow management and feeding and nesting sites for farmland birds. To encompass all of these farming principles, Rectory farm is an active member of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming).
In acknowledgement of the conservation work on the farm we have won several farming awards including the ‘Most Beautiful Farm Award’ granted for conservation, diversification and public access, Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) Silver Lapwing Award, regional finalists for the RSPB Nature of Farming Award and finalists in the Farmers Weekly ‘Countryside Farmer of the Year’. This is Fay and Abigail receiving an award for the best footpath from Leicestershire & Rutland Ramblers Association