In 2003, we purchased Turnastone Court Farm, in Vowchurch, to secure the farm’s future. Now 16 years on, the farm is not only home to Hereford cattle, a flock of commercial ewes and 100s of wildlife species, but will soon be an education hub for the local community.

Since its establishment over 25 years ago, the CRT has been passionate about the role of education and the community in protecting wildlife biodiversity. It was this that led to the five-year development of an education centre and lodge at the Herefordshire property.

Due to officially open in September 2019, the new addition to Turnastone Court Farm will allow the CRT team to fulfil all aspects of the trust’s ethos.

“Education is at the heart of the CRT and is critical to the trust sharing the principles of wildlife-friendly farming,” explains Danielle Dewe, CRT general manager.

“The 247-acre farm is home to a variety of flora and fauna, with 90 acres of grassland, and 500 meters of hedgerows creating habitats and food for birds and mammals.

“Local birdlife includes lapwings, redstarts and spotted flycatchers, which have been spotted in the meadows and woodlands, plus we’ve had reports of dippers in the adjacent river Dore,” she says.

Education at Turnastone Court Farm

“Turnastone Court Farm really is the perfect example of what the CRT is all about. And the education centre, which will be fourth in our property portfolio, will be a hub for the local community, schools and visitors to Hereford to use.”

Education is a pertinent subject in agriculture, with the NFU’s Minette Batters frequently highlighting the role it plays in the next generation understanding how and where their food is produced.

Following the decision in 2014 to convert one of the old barns in the main farmyard, it was with this in mind that the CRT set to work on creating a multi-purpose space with education at its heart.

“The centre consists of an open plan kitchen and working area which can suit local schools, nurseries or community clubs,” says Ms Dewe.

The building also backs on to the working farm, so, visitors can see and learn about every-day farming life. “Visitors will be able to learn more about the British countryside, and the importance of protecting our wildlife and farmland for the future.”

In addition to the 20 part and full-time staff the charity employs, the CRT is reliant on the work of its valued volunteers. As such there is a dedicated space for volunteers to use alongside the CRT’s local education officer and wildlife monitor.

“We’re supported by over 75 volunteers each year, so it’s important we have room to carry out the important ongoing conservation and survey work,” she adds.

Rural accommodation

The centre at Turnastone Court will also provide all-year-round accommodation for visitors to the region to explore the local countryside.

“The building has three, luxury en-suite bedrooms, which we hope to rent out in the Autumn 2020,” explains Ms Dewe.

“This farm and the wildlife around it is continually evolving. We’re looking forward to building upon this, and welcoming the local community to our education centre.”

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