Denmark Farm is an important place to me. I first heard about it 25 years ago when I was studying hedgerows and looking for good quality examples to survey. Sadly, at the time, the hedges at Denmark Farm were in poor shape and so I never went to look at them. In fact, I didn’t actually visit the site until about 10 years later, by which time all the habitats, including the hedgerows, were flourishing and the number of species present was starting to shoot up.
In the past 15 years, though, I have spent an increasing amount of time at Denmark Farm. I have run workshops and taught courses – mainly about ecology and conservation; I have attended courses – mainly to learn craft skills; I have volunteered – undertaking practical activities and working as a trustee; I have had a holiday there (yes, I know it’s only about 15 miles from home); and I have been there just to enjoy the peace and quiet. People who visit Denmark Farm tend to come back. The proportion of return bookings for the eco-lodge is high. Having attended one course, participants usually book another… and another. And tutors seem to love the place as a venue – I know I do.
So, as you can see it’s a place that I value very much.
However, all those beautiful acres need management and care. Someone needs to walk the site regularly to make sure the trails are all open. The fences need repairing or replacing sometimes to keep the highland cattle in and the stock from adjoining farms out. The wildflower meadows need to be mowed and and the hazels need to be coppiced. Some of this work can be done by volunteers, but we also need to pay contractors and we need staff to run the site – from organising conservation management to planning courses. And this, of course, means that we need money. The eco-lodge is helping to earn some income for the site, and we have small grants at the moment from Environment Wales and the Big Lottery Fund, but we still rely on donations to fund some of our activities.
And this is why I decided last year that I would not simply support the charity with annual membership, but that I would make a one-off payment and become a lifetime member. For the charity this represented a welcome income that allowed a significant amount of work to be funded and for me it felt as if I had made a really big contribution to the continuing management of the farm and all its wonderful species and habitats. Of course not everyone can afford to make such a big donation all in one go, and the Trust welcomes regular annual membership payments. But if you do have the funds to afford lifetime membership it does help a great deal.
Either way, personal membership is linked to a number of benefits (which you can read about here) as well as the knowledge that you are contributing to a really worthwhile cause and helping Denmark Farm thrive.