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!
Sign up to our mailing list(s)
You are now subscribed!
You are signed up to the mailing list(s) you selected.