The wet weather didn’t put a halt to a very enjoyable afternoon spent at Park Farm, Swindon, on Tuesday 4th July. Over 30 guests gathered to celebrate Chris Rumming’s environmental successes at the farm, which led to him being awarded the Silver Pintail Trophy in 2022.

D.W.Rumming and Sons is made up of 2 farms and 6 partners. Each farm is approximately 200 acres and Park Farm is managed by Chris and his family. The enterprise is first and foremost beef sucklers with the breeding herd living at Waterhay Farm (managed by Chris’ brother, Andy) and the young stock coming to Park Farm once weaned. Alongside the beef cattle, the farm hosts a flock of Oxford Down sheep, rear 600 turkeys for Christmas and have a monthly pop-up farm shop alongside their butchery, to sell direct to customers. The business is thriving and alongside this, Chris is constantly considering the wildlife that resides on the farm and ensuring habitats are flourishing.



The event began with a short presentation from Chris, showcasing much of the work on the farm, which is located close to the M4, close to nearby Swindon town and surrounded by other farmland. Judge Richard Appleton remarked that although the farm may not be located in a picturesque vista, the sheer scale of rich localised habitat that Chris has developed on the farm outweighs any ‘nice view’. This mosaic of habitats became very apparent in Chris’ presentation, and confirmed again on the walk. The majority of the farm is permanent pasture and managing the grazing is Chris’ primary task. The cattle are all moved daily and grazed behind electric fence. Chris grazes areas depending on a multitude of factors, including: time of year, grass availability, objectives for that field and species present, with the main goals being to increase carbon sequestration alongside animal performance. Both the beef and the sheep bring benefits to the pasture by producing dung. Chris is a Dung Beetle enthusiast, so is careful with wormers to ensure they thrive. The cattle act as a magnet for Swallows, Yellow Wagtails and Starlings, while the sheep attract Meadow Pipits. Chris keeps count of the birds he sees month-by-month and there are now over 100 birds on the farm list.



Park Farm has three arable fields of herbal ley and 10 acers of this also has and experimental addition of wildflowers, 5-10% of each field is left un-grazed on each rotation to provide pollen and habitat, some of which runs alongside footpaths. It provides home to many Hares and Deer as well as Skylarks. In addition to the grassland, Park Farm has 1.5km of brook running through the farm, which is teaming with various life. Funding was secured to re-fence and clear a 500m section of scrub, to increase the habitat for Water Vole. The project was a huge success, and Water Voles have been moving into this new habitat already. Chris has added natural flood management techniques, such as leaky dams, to ensure safe habitat for the young in flash flooding. The areas of deep water are beneficial to other life, and the brook now has Sticklebacks in the entire stretch. A kingfisher bank has also been created, for them to nest in with residents settling in very quickly. There are 2 ponds on the farm, which regularly see rare Gadwall feeding. The ponds contain mainly Burr Reed, Norfolk Reed, Yellow Flag, Marsh Marigold, Water Lilies and Hornwort and supports a dozen dragonfly species. It also occasionally hosts Kingfisher, Teal and Tufted Duck. The main farm pond contains Great Crested Newts, Toads, Frogs and the occasional grass snake and even otters that come up from the Brook.

Hedgerows are abundant at Park Farm, trimmed only when necessary, and some hedge tops are left uncut in order to lay in the near future. A small woodland on the farm is informally coppiced, with the wood going to the biomass boiler that heats the house in winter. Chris makes sure to leave some heaped up brush wood and deadwood. The farm buildings are also alive with birds nesting: sparrows, swallows and collared doves – and despite the rain on Tuesday we were welcomed by a whole host of them.



Guests in wet-weather gear, Chris led the tour, showcasing the herbal leys, wildflower plots, sections of the brook and moved his cattle with an audience. A conveniently timed hare even shot across the field in front of the group, sadly too quickly to photograph!

Rounded off with pasties, cake and plenty of discussion, everyone left Park Farm with plenty of inspirational ideas to take home, albeit a little soggy.

Huge congratulations again to Chris Rumming and family for your efforts on the farm which are so clear to see. You are exemplar stewards of farming and worthy winners of the Silver Pintail Award. Many thanks too for being such gracious hosts.

If you would like more information on the Silver Pintail award, please click here...