A ground-breaking partnership has been announced between a group of Suffolk farmers, known collaboratively as the ‘High Suffolk Farm Cluster’, and pet food company, Nestlé Purina.
The farmers and representatives from Nestlé met in June and the farmers received bird boxes, made by retired carpenter and naturalist Jim Peart, and funded by Nestlé Purina as part of the Landscape Enterprise Networks (LENs) program.
The bird boxes will provide secure nesting sites for bird species including little owl, kestrel, and spotted flycatcher. A bag of winter bird food supported by Kings Crops and a Perdix supplementary feeder, was also collected, essential tools that support farmland birds through the ‘Hungry Gap’, the period during early spring when natural food sources are scarce.
Patrick Barker from Lodge Farm in Westhorpe said: “The collaboration is Integral to sustainable landscape scale farmland nature recovery in our region and environmental improvements for the wider community.”
Matt Ryan, Regeneration Lead at Nestlé UK & Ireland, was keen to highlight the support the High Suffolk Cluster receives is ‘farmer led’.
He said: “Our involvement in this, and other farm clusters, provides vital financial and communications support. We are determined to assist farmers to not only continue producing high quality food, but also help them to improve on-farm biodiversity and deliver positive environmental outcomes for the wider landscape”.
Nestlé Purina has additionally funded a biodiversity baseline survey conducted by Oakbank Game and Wildlife, a hedgerow survey and management plan by R&R Countryside Services and an assessment of the woods across the entire 4,000 hectares of the cluster. These surveys will lead to beneficial hedgerow and woodland coppice management practices, bringing greater connectivity and improved habitats for many threatened wildlife species.
Patrick Barker concluded: “The cluster will be open to more farms once the project is fully established. In order for farmers to have sustainable businesses in the future we need to focus on key areas. Innovation is essential, meaning we can farm in a more sustainable way, collaboratively with our neighbours. We also need to be educators, both individually and as a cluster, informing consumers, policy makers and young people about the true story of food, farming and the wildlife that calls our farms home.”