Alison Cross

Alison Cross

How long have you worked for Trust? 

13 years in April 2017.

How long been an Advisor? 

Does this role from part of another position at the Trust? Farm and land advice has been part of my role to varying degrees throughout my time with the Trust. It is currently my full time role and I would like it to stay that way!

Role as farm advisor

My role has been to work with 5 farmers from Dorset, Hampshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire to develop the wildlife standard for Jordans Farm Partnership. It has been great getting to know these farmers and to see the passion and enthusiasm that they have for the wildlife on their farms. Now that part of the work is complete, I can concentrate on working with the JFP farmers in Hampshire, helping them to get the best out of their farms for the wildlife that lives there.

Moundsmere Estate, Malshanger Estate, Manor Farm and Binley Farm

Together, these farms comprise over 2,500 hectares of farmland and woodland. They are all on the Hampshire Downs in the north of the county and for the most part arable farms growing wheat, barley, oilseed rape and oats. Malshanger also grows some wonderfully fragrant lavender, chamomile and mint.

Each farm is providing a network of grassy and flowery margins, corners and plots; valuable rough grassland for small mammals and the owls and raptors which feed on them; bramble and scrub for butterflies, moths and other insects, growing seed rich plants for farmland birds and providing specially managed areas for rare cornfield flowers. These habitats are often missing or in short supply across the former downland landscape of north Hampshire.

Working with the farmers , help them maximise the potential for wildlife, suggesting new projects which are tailored to their individual farms. New barn owl boxes have been erected, cultivated field margins for cornfield flowers are being provided, a bank of wildflowers will shortly be sown and wildlife surveys are being carried out that will help inform management. We are lucky to have species such as the rare striped lychnis moth and the nationally rare and declining willow tit in the area and we are doing what we can to help them by trying to provide the habitat and conditions they need.

What I really like about the JFP is that not only does it help farmers and wildlife, but it gives the consumer an opportunity to show their support for a better way of farming by choosing food which has been produced with care for wildlife.

Do you have family/pets? 

I’m part of a close family and lucky to have most of my family living nearby. It was great growing up on a farm with my grandparents, mum, dad, brothers, sister, aunt, uncle and cousins all around me.
Now I’m married, with 2 grown up children, 2 grandchildren and nephews & nieces of varying ages.

What’s your favourite species/wildlife passion? 

That’s hard. I get a real thrill from seeing the usual do something unusual . I was once fascinated by seeing a robin apparently trying a bit of dead rat during a particularly cold period! I’m not sure that I have a favourite species though I do have a soft spot for orangutan, not that I get to see them in the general line of duty. If I was to choose a farmland species it would have to be the lapwing as it is so evocative of my childhood.

Why do you feel managing farms for wildlife is important?

For me, it’s more about the integration of the needs of wildlife within the farm system than managing the farm for wildlife. I believe that just as modern farming has brought about so much of the decline in wildlife, so farmers hold the key to reversing those declines. Just look at the opportunity – approx. 75% of the UK is farmed. Where else do we have the chance to make landscape scale changes at that level? It’s time that we all worked together to make our farmland more hospitable to the wildlife which depends on it.

Loading comments