Williamwood is a 300 acre nature friendly livestock farm with luxury holiday cottages. Our vision for it is a productive farm, as near carbon-neutral as possible, bursting with biodiversity, in an environment which is attractive to visitors. Our mission is to demonstrate that food can be produced in ways which are good for nature within a sustainable business which is helping to combat climate change.
It's been 10 years since we bought Williamwood. The bones of what we want to achieve were here but in serious need of help. Ancient semi-natural woods were impenetrable, fences were not stock-proof and buildings were in poor repair. With the help of contractors, we have restored the buildings and created 4 luxury holiday cottages. The remainder we have tackled pretty much ourselves, planting at least 500 metres of new hedges a year and several small woods with community input, a sizeable loch and several miles of new walks through the woods and around the farm.
Wildlife has come in abundance. We have otters, red squirrels, owls, tree sparrows and waders, to name but a few. Their numbers are increasing as a result of our management methods which include habitat management, food supply and predator control. The burnside corridors which we have fenced allow otters and other animals to move around the farm. The cameras and hides which we have installed allow our visitors to watch the birdlife during the day and the badgers at night. Wildlife watching has become a key USP in generating more visitor flow to our cottages in an increasingly crowded market.
Our conservation measures are helping our livestock as well as nature.There is more shelter, better bio-security and management is easier. Fences which protect new hedges and new walks also help to keep livestock where they should be.
Our visitors remark on the beauty and tranquillity of their surroundings within what is obviously a working farm. They take home a positive view of the way in which meat is produced to high welfare standards within a "spider's web" of hedges, trees, burns, tracks and ponds which support a myriad of species. It is a million miles from the "industrialised farming" of which our industry is so often accused in the media.
We believe that nature friendly farming should be the direction of travel for Scottish agriculture. With Government support, we need a quantum leap to landscape scale change and better articulation of the farmer's story to the public. As members of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, we aim to play our part in that as we continue to strive to make Williamwood a business fit for the 21st century.