CRT Friends are at the heart of everything we do. Their generosity allows us to support a living, working countryside. Here are 10 reasons why you should become a friend today.

1. Support British birdlife

The number of birds on the UK Red List grew in 2021, which means that our precious British birdlife is continuing to decline. The CRT supports farming practices that help make space for wildlife. Through sensitive farming methods, the CRT’s Lark Rise Farm in Cambridgeshire has seen a four-fold increase in grey partridges over the past twenty years as well as the return of lapwings to its fields. In Dorset, we restored a dilapidated outbuilding at Bere Marsh Farm where two barn owl chicks successfully fledged.

2. Help create healthy hedgerows

The CRT is an advocate of bushy hedgerows that provide safe habitats and ample food for wildlife. We have consistently planted new hedgerows across our properties, and even hosted an activity as part of the National Hedgelaying Championships in 2018. Our hedges are planted by volunteers and conservationists and are a fantastic community activity that helps connect local people with nature.

‘I enjoy volunteering for the CRT because I feel rewarded in that I’m helping to get the message across to the nation [that] farming and wildlife work hand in hand’ – CRT Friend, November 2021

3. Make health and wellbeing accessible to all

At the heart of the CRT is an ambition to reconnect people with food and farming. Our properties are abundant with public footpaths, and signage that helps explain what wildlife visitors might see, or how to be respectful in nature. By opening up our farms and guiding people through, we create spaces for people from all walks of life to enjoy the great outdoors and its many benefits.

‘It is important to preserve the footpaths at Lark Rise Farm, a real haven in COVID times, and to preserve and enhance the Barton Community Orchard’ – CRT Friend, November 2021

4. Blend traditional and modern farming methods

Our tenant farms run productive and profitable farms that also provide a space for nature. Across our properties, farmers and land managers combine traditional farming methods with modern practices to achieve the best results. For example, the traditional orchard at Awnells Farm in Herefordshire was planted around 300 years ago and continues to bear fruit for local cider production. It is also home to the exceptionally rare orchard tooth fungus, which only grows on old trees that have been allowed to rot. By contrast, Pierrepont Farm in Surrey utilises modern technology such as a robotic dairy and smart tags for its cows that give real time feedback on their health and productivity.

‘You are essential to the survival of traditional farms which treat the environment, farm animals and wildlife with respect’ – CRT Friend, November 2021

5. Teach children about the farming and wildlife mosaic

In 2021, the CRT launched Mosaic, a new educational programme that teaches primary school pupils about farming, food and wildlife. Based at Pierrepont Farm, Mosaic blends the adventure of the great outdoors with key learning outcomes aligned to the curriculum. Activity days are also available for Beavers and Cubs to achieve a range of badges across the farm. Each trip links together a variety of habitats, including the farm’s modern diary, pond dipping and the woodland to communicate the mosaic of the countryside.

‘Our Cubs had a brilliant afternoon learning about the farming and wildlife mosaic’ – Haslemere District Scouts, October 2021

6. Stimulate the rural economy

The CRT hosts a range of events throughout the year that engage a varied audience with the rural economy. These include wildlife walks and talks with our expert monitors across CRT properties, as well as Crafts in the Courtyard and Christmas in the Courtyard at Pierrepont Farm. These craft events shone a spotlight on our fantastic artist and artisan tenants based in the old dairy buildings, and they supported our mission to boost not just farming but the wider rural economy as well. All CRT friends receive invitations to open days, and discounted prices on ticketed events.

7. Support scientific conservation research

The CRT’s wildlife monitors are busy throughout the year surveying and recording the biodiversity that appears on our properties, and utilising innovative methods to gather this data. The work of our monitors helps us better understand the contribution of our farming and land management practices on local flora and fauna, with recent studies being published on the relationship between anthills and grassland fungi communities at Turnastone Court Farm in Herefordshire.

8. Contribute to the conversation on regenerating agricultural practices

We have recently joined the Nature-Friendly Farming Network, a campaigning group that drives positive change for the farming community to become more sustainable and for this to be supported by the Government. The CRT also recently announced its support for the campaign calling on the Government to commit to increasing the nation’s network of hedgerows by 40% by 2050. We want to use what we have learnt over decades of wildlife-friendly farming to contribute to this conversation.

‘The principles of the CRT are crucial in transforming farming into a more environmentally friendly sustainable enterprise that is critical to help solve the massive crisis of climate change’ – CRT friend, November 2021

9. Learn about conservation in your own back garden

Friends of the CRT receive three editions each year of our fantastic colour magazine The Lark. Packed with articles about the latest activities on CRT properties, The Lark is a beacon of hope at a time of concern over the climate and nature crises. What’s more, we include guidance and information about how friends of the CRT can do their bit to support wildlife in their own back gardens or local green spaces, from feeding the birds during winter to looking out for hibernating hedgehogs.

‘The magazine is better and more readable than many’ – CRT friend, November 2021

10. Join a like-minded community

Friends of the CRT are passionate about regenerating our countryside for the benefit of future generations. That means reversing the decline in biodiversity, supporting British-grown food and sustainable agricultural practices, and connecting people from all walks of life with that journey. Joining the CRT as a friend means you are becoming part of something bigger. When you join, you will receive a welcome pack with fantastic resources and information to get you settled in.

Click here for more information or to join today!