Working Farm in AONB
|OS grid reference:||SP 620 007|
|Nearest postcode:||OX44 7PP|
Wells Farm is a BBOWT working farm in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It consists of 163 acres of lowland arable fields and wildflower meadows dotted with ponds and a stream, and provides a living example of how a working farm can remain profitable whilst encouraging wildlife diversity. OCV worked here on a 2-day fencing project Summer 2008.
Wells Farm lies in the gently sloping valley bottom of the Thames Vale, within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Wild flowers and grasses have been seeded into the wide margins and banks of the commercial arable fields. A small brook links two ponds which are surrounded by old scrub copse, and a wildflower meadow has been created alongside the stream.
Flora and Fauna
Dragonflies, coots, moorhens and amphibians enjoy the lowland wet meadows and reedbeds surrounding the ponds and stream. Plants include black poplar, willow, marigold, watercress, watermint and iris. The scrubby margins of the open farmfields are favoured by wildflowers like the yellow rattle (which is parasitic on some grass species), forget-me-not, viper's bugloss and field pansy. Butterflies such as the marbled white and common blue can also be found here. Look and listen out for meadow birds like the skylark, corn bunting and linnet. You might spot a patrolling fox, and are bound to see red kites or buzzards circling above.
Sheep graze the field margins to encourage wildflower and insect diversity by cropping back the coarser grasses, which would otherwise out-compete the less robust species and dominate the habitat, leading to a low-diversity grassland with relatively few species of plants and invertebrates. The grazing also maintains low soil fertility, which again benefits the meadow flowers which are better able to survive in these conditions than many grasses. Water level in the ponds is regulated to ensure they do not silt up. Bankside willows are pollarded to prevent them collapsing.
Wells Farm is 8 miles south-east of Oxford. Leave the M40 and junction 7 and take the A329 to Stadhampton. Follow the A329 to Little Milton village and then take a left down Haseley Road (the entrance of which is opposite The Lamb pub). Take the track on left by the phonebox, and park in farmyard. Note that this is not a public site, so you should come to an OCV task to see this species-rich site.