Greenslate Farm is a recently established community farm based in Billinge to the west of Wigan. The farm has about 30 acres of land of which half is for arable, buildings and allotments and the rest is a mixture of meadow and woodland. The woodland is the result of self-seeding and consists almost totally of goat willow which is so dense in places that there is little biodiversity or habitat for wildlife.
Through the ITF and Worktop Express grant scheme over 400 trees will be planted by volunteers. The gait willow will be replaced by a coppice of oak, small leaved and broad leaved lime and hazel to create a vibrant environment for wildlife as well as producing wood that can be used directly on the farm or sold. The lime trees will also benefit the bee colonies which are due to be introduced into the farm next year. A further coppice of osier willow will be planted on meadow land.
Both coppices will provide material for green woodworking, charcoal making and firewood as well as willow for basket making. These will be used both on the farm and sold to support their community and educational programmes.
Mandy Wellens-Bray, Project Coordinator at Greenslate Community Farm told us that “One of the key outcomes of this project is as an educational resource. Volunteers, care farm users and those attending skill-sharing sessions will also be able to benefit from hands-on experience in coupe clearance, tree planting and processing of the products”.
TREE FOCUS: Tilia cordata or small-leaved lime is a deciduous tree native to the UK once a common woodland tree and often an indicator of ancient forests. However it is now only occasionally found. Lime leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of many moth species and the flowers provide nectar and pollen for insects, particularly bees. Lime wood is soft and light and often used in carving and woodturning. Outside of the UK, the lime is known as the linden and linden tea made from the tree’s flowers is aid to have a pleasing taste and is an herbal remedy for a number of ailments including digestive and anxiety problems. Tilia platyphyllos or large-leaved or broad leaved lime is very similar to the small leave but is the rarest of the UK’s native limes.
To learn more about Greenslate Community Farm