Rare chance to walk through an ‘agroforest’ at farm open day this Sunday
- Credit: Archant
A Norfolk farm that offers work placements for disadvantaged people is now reaping the rewards from its new ‘agroforesty’ planting technique. Clinks Care Farm in Toft Monks is throwing open its doors on Sunday to give members of the public a chance to walk through their new agroforest, as well as to meet their Boer goat kids and new Dexter cattle.
An agroforest is a field in which trees have been planted in between another crop to increase the area farmed both above and below, and in recent years, especially in East Africa, poor smallholder farmers have been turning to agroforestry as a mean to adapt to climate change. For the husband and wife team Doeke Dobma and Iris van Zon, who run the 143 acre farm near Beccles, the idea for an agroforest came from a Woodland Trust’s pamphlet they picked up on the topic in Birmingham that led to talks with the Woodland Trust.
They have so far planted 900 trees ranging from apple, pear and quinces to walnut and hazelnut trees, and some of them are already bearing fruit. Meadow hay crop grows between the trees.
“The trees provide benefits to the crops in between by reducing soil degradation, improving water efficiency and enhancing pest and disease control,” explained Ms van Zon. “They also provide additional marketable products such as fruit, nuts or timber - clever trees!”
Ms van Zon, who is from Holland, explained that an “arctic cold” swept the field while the farm team were planting their agroforest, which involved measuring, digging holes, planting young trees and doing a “Clinks’ version of the Spanish Zapateado dance, “stamping around the trunk to firm them.”
“Our motto is growing produce, growing people,” explained Mr Dobma. And following that ethos, teenagers aged 13 to 15 who are faced with possible school exclusion have been coming to Clinks Care farm every Saturday to help with planting and picking fruits with the South Norfolk Youth Advisory Board. “Our two bee hives will soon be supplemented by further hives funded by the East of England Co-op, who in partnership with us are planning to put on courses for trainee bee keepers through Waveney Bee Keepers,” he added.
The farm’s annual Open Day, from 11am to 3pm on Sunday, promises more exhibits than ever before. There will also be music from a ukulele band, Morris dancing, games and a cooking demonstration using the farm’s produce.