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Carolyne and Somerset Charrington, Treshnish Farm, Isle of Mull

The Charrington family have been farming at Treshnish since 1994, and since then, they have seen the bio-diversity and wildlife improve dramatically. Treshnish is a hill farm with a flock of around 550 Blackface, Cheviot and a few Herdwicks ewes. It is managed to protect and encourage biodiversity. We have a small herd of cattle which graze during the summer months. We make bird friendly late cut silage and do not use artificial fertilisers.

40 visitors/1900 acres

We first took part in LEAF Open Farm Sun­day back in 2013 when vis­i­tors came on a wild-flower walk fol­lowed with tea and scones. In 2018, we decid­ed to take part again and held our event as part of the Mull and Iona Food Trail, Move­able Feasts 2018’. This ini­tia­tive pro­motes local pro­duce and island food pro­duc­ers and the date coin­cid­ed with Open Farm Sun­day. In the years between our LOFS events, we have host­ed many walks as we are part of the Coro­na­tion Mead­ows project.

Peo­ple are inter­est­ed in what we do, but don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly know how the land is looked after, even some vis­i­tors who live local­ly. The rea­son we take part isn’t for finan­cial rea­sons but because we are inter­est­ed in shar­ing what we do with the public.

Our event was a guid­ed farm walk fol­lowed by a pic­nic in one of the mead­ows, look­ing out across our won­der­ful views. Vis­i­tors were able to pre-order a deli­cious pic­nic with Island Pork sausage rolls and sal­ads direct from Bal­ly­gown Restau­rant too – or bring their own pic­nic. I had con­tact­ed the restau­rant a few months before­hand to ensure that they were avail­able to ful­fil any pic­nic orders for the day.

In the after­noon, we were helped by two wildlife rangers from the Mull and Iona Ranger Ser­vice who were there point­ing out and iden­ti­fy­ing the birds and their calls. The Mull Bird Club always have a mem­bers’ out­ing to our events too. Some of our vis­i­tors are very knowl­edge­able about birds and some were botanists. Vis­i­tors saw Gold­en Eagles as they arrived, they heard Cuck­oos and a Curlew flew over the picnic!

We had about 40 vis­i­tors on the day; adults and chil­dren; a mix of locals and tourists – which worked real­ly well. A cou­ple of our vis­i­tors were farm­ers, new to the island, who were inter­est­ed in prac­ti­cal farm­ing-relat­ed ques­tions, espe­cial­ly about the per­pet­u­al bat­tle between brack­en and biodiversity.

Being in a remote loca­tion, we pro­mot­ed our­selves in lots of dif­fer­ent ways – Face­book, Insta­gram, Twit­ter (tag­ging Open Farm Sun­day in tweets), blog con­tent for our hol­i­day cot­tage web­site, the Move­able Feast’ web­site, the Ranger Ser­vice and our local island month­ly news­pa­per. We made it clear to vis­i­tors from the start that it was a walk with a pic­nic and no pens with lambs to pet. So apart from a tidy up of the farm and speak­ing to our insur­ance com­pa­ny – our prepa­ra­tions were rel­a­tive­ly low-key. 

We col­lect­ed dona­tions for the RNLI (Roy­al Nation­al Lifeboat Insti­tu­tion) and Mary’s Meals which aims to pro­vide chron­i­cal­ly hun­gry chil­dren in the world’s poor­est com­mu­ni­ties with one meal every school day. Vis­i­tors were very generous. 

For us, the best part was at the end of the day, watch­ing our vis­i­tors enjoy­ing their pic­nics on rugs in front of the farm­house, look­ing out at the view – we even spot­ted por­pois­es too!

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