September 1, 2021 5.35 pm This story is over 32 months old

Lincolnshire family raised £2m to save local wildlife by growing sunflowers

Helping nature’s recovery

A Lincolnshire family raised £2 million for wildlife conservation as sunflowers bloomed on their wildlife friendly farm near Spalding.

The black sunflower seeds are part of 400 acres of bird seed crops at Vine House Farm in Deeping St Nicholas. They will go into wild bird food mixes, along with red millet, canary seed, oil seed rape and naked oats, which are all home grown on the farm.

Thanks to hedges, ponds, and wildflower margins at field edges, which were all created by farmer and award-winning conservationists Nicholas Watts, the farm is also a haven for wild birds.

The family raised £2 million for wildlife conservation. | Photo: Matthew Roberts

A field of sunflowers at Vine House Farm. | Photo: Matthew Roberts

Fourth-generation farmer Nicholas has been working on the land at the farm since he was a boy. Over the last 20 years, the number of barn owl and whitethroat has quadrupled, while tree sparrow and lapwing numbers have increased ten-fold.

The money raised over 14 years supports the nature conservation work of The Wildlife Trusts.

Farmer Nicholas Watts (right) with his daughter Lucy Taylor (left) at Vine House Farm. | Photo: Matthew Roberts

Farmer Nicholas Watts stood in the field of sunflowers. | Photo: Matthew Roberts

Farmer Watts said: “Summer sees adult birds moult, shedding their old feathers and growing new ones, which takes a lot of energy, so birds still need feeding.

“Sources of natural food, like insects are declining, and in dry weather worms retreat deeper into the soil. Putting out plump sultanas, soaked in water means young birds can get vital moisture.”

“Watch who visits your garden, whether they’re ground feeders or prefer perching on trees or shrubs and offer a variety of food, so each bird gets what it needs from seeds to suet, or mealworms.”

What a stunning sight! | Photo: Matthew Roberts

Vine House Farm – Nicholas Watts (right) with his daughter Lucy Taylor (left). | Photo: Matthew Roberts

Lucy Taylor, who is Nicholas’ daughter and manager at Vine House Farm, said: “Our partnership with The Wildlife Trusts has long been very important to us.

“Along with the practical measures we take on the farm to, for example, to reverse the trend of declining songbird numbers; a percentage of each purchase of Vine House Farm bird seed goes to support Wildlife Trusts, enabling a greater conservation impact across the country.

“The Wildlife Trusts have always been the obvious choice for us to champion, and it’s been a proud time for me, my father and all our family to be able to reach the two million pound milestone. Now we look forward to the future and being able to eventually reach five million and more.”

| Photo: Matthew Roberts

| Photo: Matthew Roberts

| Photo: Matthew Roberts

The coronavirus pandemic has seen more customers than ever coming to Vine House Farm for expert advice and wild garden bird food.