New residents will be moo-ving into the countryside at Derriford – a herd of young cattle.
Duchy College are transporting seven Aberdeen Angus, Simmental and Belgian Blue yearlings from their farm at Camborne to Poole Farm so that they can graze the meadows of Seaton Valley.
The arrival of the animals today is another sign that the countryside is coming to the city in a big way. The cows will provide the best management to improve the wildflower meadows which will benefit bees and other polinators.
The Council is creating a community park at Derriford covering 140-hectares to open up the beautiful Forder, Seaton and Bircham Valley and last year announced a partnership with Duchy College, part of The Cornwall College Group, to create an ‘environmental education hub’ within the community park.
Poole Farm, which was passed to the Council as part of the planning agreement linked with the new housing development, has been cleared of abandoned equipment and the farmhouse made ready for new tenants.
Apprentice countryside manager Willow Large-Lee and Apprentice farm manager Joe Bestwick have just moved into the farmhouse and will be responsible for looking after the animals while they are in Plymouth over the summer.
As part of their apprenticeship, they have been learning about livestock at the Duchy College. Willow said: “I’m really enjoying working with cows and have learned how to milk. We’ve had to do early morning milking – which means getting up at 3am.”
Willow has been an apprentice at the Council for six months and loves the outdoor life. So far, she has helped draw up a management plan for the Park and has overseen the installation of stock-proof fencing, troughs and sheds for the cattle. She has also been involved in community activities including planting trees, removing old fences, brambles and other scrub ready for new hedges to be planted.
She is currently setting up a bee hive in one of the meadows.
She added: “I do not have an average day. It’s crazy but I am really enjoying it. We’ve just moved on to the farm as we need to check on the cattle twice a day.”
Derriford has been earmarked as a key growth area for Plymouth with a new district centre, housing and employment proposed to be built over the next 20 years.
The first homes have already been built at Palmerston Heights and a new school – St Matthew’s Church of England primary school opened last September.
Assistant Director for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Paul Barnard added: “It’s great to see the plan for the Community Park coming to life. There are not many cities with a herd of cattle coming to graze and not many that can boast apprentice farm and countryside apprentices.
“We want to grow as a city, but are conscious that there needs to be a balance between housing estates and fields, roads and hedges and want to create something remarkable here. These apprentices and their work on the farm is helping this happen.”
As well as protecting one of the last working farms in Plymouth, the plans include an education campus hosting courses including horticulture, countryside management and animal care.
Other plans for the park include over 15 kilometres of new footpaths and cycle routes; new and improved habitats, community gardens and orchard for growing food for a proposed farm shop and café.