Watch Lynn and Sandra explain their approach to crofting (Video: Julia Fayngruen)
Hedging our bets: trialling two approaches
In the first year, two options are being trialled. They will be planted this winter.
The first is a 400m hedge which includes about 2000 goat willow, grey willow and eared willow. These should do well on the wet ground lower down the croft. The hedge will offer shelter and animals will browse on it directly. But its main job will be to provide tree hay. Sections will be coppiced on rotation with foliage cut, bundled and dried in the barn.
The second crop consists of ten 10m square copses of mostly downy birch and alder. The plan is to coppice these on five year rotations for tree hay.
Both of these plantings are supported by the Croft Woodlands Project, which aims to help create 500 hectares of new woodland on croft land by 2020. The project is a partnership between Woodland Trust, The Scottish Crofting Federation, Forestry Commission Scotland and Point and the Sandwick Trust. Funding for the planting is from AccorHotels and delivered through the PUR projet, a social enterprise that works with farmers worldwide.
Lynn and Sandra have noticed that when their animals enter a pasture, they often ignore the grass and make a beeline for any available trees. It doesn’t look like the livestock will need convincing!