Food, farming and conservation blogs

We are fortunate to have a range of people across Dartington blogging about their work in farming, conservation and other land-based activities.

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25 years on: Bird nesting scheme still going strong at Dartington

Our estate warden pays tribute to Peter Morris, whose nesting box scheme in Dartington Hills continues to play a vital part in understanding Britain's birds - a quarter of a century after its creation. Read More >>

Winning Soundscape bird hide design for Queens Marsh

Food and Farming blog: New bird hide design is a winner!

Students from the University of Plymouth have created a design inspired by Dartington's kingfishers - but we need your feedback to help us decide where the new bird hide should be located. Read More >>

Aerial image showing the new ponds and scrapes at Queen's Marsh

Food and Farming blog: New bird hide set to open up restored wetland

In an exciting and unanticipated developement, Queen’s Marsh will now be getting a bird hide - thanks to students from the school of architecture at Plymouth University. Read More >>

Agroforestry: Our mistakes don't have to be your mistakes

As Dartington's pioneering new agroforestry project reaches a more advanced stage, Harriet takes a moment to outline some key lessons learned, in order to help those who are interested in 'growing their own'. Read More >>

queen's marsh montage

Food and Farming blog: Our ducks are in a row - now they're getting a pond

After much planning, it's time for action! Work to create the fundamental structure for reinstating the entire 7 hectares of Queen’s Marsh field as a wetland has now been confirmed - read on to find out more. Read More >>

Viewing platform overlooking Berrymans Marsh

Conservation diary: How we're helping wildlife thrive at Berryman's Marsh

Did you know that Berryman's Marsh is a key area for conservation work at Dartington? Here, Estate Warden Mike Newby reveals how hard work is helping us make the most of this small but ecologically rich area of land. Read More >>

The field at Dartington proposed for agroforestry use

Food and Farming blog: Will our unique new approach bear fruit?

In her latest blog, Harriet explains how, after a huge amount of work behind the scenes, Dartington is about to deliver agroforestry in a way that has never been seen in the UK before. Read More >>

Thanks to Gillian Cartwright for sending in this fantastic image of Queen's Marsh in flood!

Food and Farming blog: Getting our ducks in a row at Queen's Marsh

Following the results of a feasibility study which recommended proactively reinstating wetland habitats in Queen’s Marsh, Harriet has been trying to do exactly that - but it's not the simplest of tasks... Read More >>

Great Tit sitting on her nest with chicks. Photograph: Vicky Churchill, Woodlands and Conservation Volunteer

Conservation diary: Keeping track of nesting birds at Dartington

Each year Mike and the volunteers carry out a nest box survey across the Dartington estate for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) - a scheme that has been going for over 25 years. Read More >>

Meadow Grasshopper. Photograph taken by Vicky Churchill, Woodlands and Conservation Volunteer, in one of the grasslands on the Dartington estate

Conservation diary: Grasshoppers and other spring sightings

April is the first month where you might be able to see or hear a Meadow Grasshopper at Dartington, with sightings possible until the late autumn. Read More >>


Conservation Diary: Recognising the stonechat

In his latest blog, Dartington's Conservation Warden Mike explains how to identify a stonechat - a bird at its most visible in the spring. Read More >>

Canada Geese at Queen's Marsh

Food and Farming blog: Wetland restoration vision takes shape

Last autumn we asked for help with a feasibility study we had commissioned into the potential to restore Queens Marsh to a wetland habitat. Here, Harriet reveals the study's conclusions... Read More >>

Guest blog: Thoughts from a Woodlands and Conservation Volunteer

Volunteer Neil writes about his experience working on the Dartington estate - and the conservation project the team have most recently been working on. Read More >>

Food and Farming blog: Rediscovering the secrets of Queen's Marsh

Harriet takes a fascinating look through the archives, in an effort to understand the history of Queen's Marsh - an exercise that will help guide Dartington's potential restoration of the site. Read More >>

The new bridge opening up access to walkers around Peek and Redlake

Food and Farming blog: How best to keep Peek sheep?

In her latest blog, Harriet explains how new footpaths around the fields at Peek Plantation are helping preserve much-used thoroughfares, while protecting the sheep of the young tenant farmer. Read More >>

Guest blog: Uncovering Dartington's hidden kingdom

Martin Luff , an entomologist who volunteers for Dartington's Woodlands & Conservation team. In this fascinating blog he reveals how his work has uncovered a huge number of beetle species at Dartington. Read More >>

Silver Wash Fritillary

Volunteer blog: Surveys that give winged wildlife a lift

Our volunteers have been leading our breeding bird survey and our butterfly survey at Dartington - crucial work in helping preserve and understand these species. Read More >>

Swallows in flight. Image: RSPB

Conservation diary: Good times are over?

September: Fun's over? Animals begin to put on weight ready for winter hibernation, and even shrubs are making preparations for the cold ahead. Read More >>

Martin Crawford

Food & Farming blog: Finding new ways to grow at Dartington

What is agroforestry - and why does it matter? Our latest blog tackles this complex subject and explains why it's so important for Dartington to support this underappreciated and challenging form of agriculture. Read More >>

Bird's nest

Conservation diary: Ground nesting birds need your help!

The breeding season between 1 March to 31 July is a particularly sensitive time of year for ground nesting birds, and Mike's on hand with some tips on how to avoid disturbing them during this time. Read More >>

Clockwise from top left: Wild garlic flowers, white hawthorn, elderflowers, bluebells

Conservation blog: Colour and perfume from the forest floor

In this month's blog, Mike writes on how it's the perfect time to enjoy the sights and smells of low-lying bluebells, white hawthorn and wild garlic. Read More >>

Jon Perkin outside Old Parsonage Farm

Old Parsonage Blog: Greetings from the new tenants!

Five weeks have already passed Jon Perkin and his wife Lynne took up their tenancy of Old Parsonage Farm - and as Jon writes here, there's been plenty happening. Read More >>

Thrush with spring flowers

Conservation diary: A feast for the senses

It's April, and Mike reflects on how the month truly reminds you spring is finally here, with fresh green foliage on the trees. Read More >>

Mute swan

Conservation diary: Swan song

In this week’s conservation blog, Estate Warden Mike takes a look at the lifecycle of one of nature’s most elegant and beguiling creatures – the swan. Read More >>

March hares (image: RSPB)

Conservation diary: Longer days and the return of migratory birds

Spring is almost upon us but the nights can still feel cold. Each day brings extra daylight in the evenings ready for the clocks to go forward and prepare us for the warmer months ahead. Read More >>

A thrush

Conservation diary: Spring is on its way

February can be a bleak month - however there are signs spring is around the corner with large clumps of snowdrops showing on the woodland floor. Read More >>

Head Chef Anuj Thakur in the White Hart kitchens

Food & Farming blog: White Hart stars in step towards sustainability

I’m pleased to be able to share the news that Dartington Hall is now a member of The Sustainable Restaurant Association, and that the White Hart and Roundhouse have been accredited as 1 Star champions. Read More >>

Bloodied sheep fur after attack on Little Bo People flock

Food & Farming blog: Please help us prevent dog attacks

It has transpired that there has been a dog attack on several of Little Bo People's sheep in the early hours of this morning. Read More >>

Catkins and snowdrops

Conservation diary: Green shoots around the corner?

In January there are few plants showing, although the yellow hazel catkins can be seen in the woodlands and hedgerows. Read More >>

Oxford Real Farming Conference

Food & Farming blog: Oxford Real Farming Conference – inspiration for 2015

The Oxford Real Farming Conference arrived like a late Christmas present at the beginning of January – with enough spirit and enthusiasm to last for the whole of 2015! Read More >>