The family-run Dingley Dell pork farm raises specialist pig breeds for the restaurant trade from their farm in Suffolk, England. Currently run by the third generation, brothers Paul and Mark Hayward, the farm places a healthy environment at the heart of their business strategy.
Worried about the alarming decline in pollinators (approx 70% in some species), in 2016 the family decided to start a project called a million bees sustainability programme which aims to provide available food to pollinators (in nectar form) from May to September.
"We are committed to farming in harmony with nature and improving the number and variety of species living in and around the farm each year.
Nectar mixes are planted in blocks around the farm, providing food for insects, butterflies and bees: 33.8 hectares (338,000 sq m), around 83 football fields. On a hot day 1 square metre can contain 10-12 bumblebees. The nectar strips are planted in a staggered fashion, ensuring we have the longest possible flowering for pollinators. We monitor both the number and species of wildlife across all areas of the farm so we can continually assess the positive impact of what we are doing."
(photos from https://www.dingleydell.com/)
The family has planted around 83 football fields worth of wildflower fields with a mixture of nectar-rich wildflowers like phacelia, sainfoin, bird's-foot trefoil, alsike clover, musk mallow, campion and vetch. This was done in a blocks around the farm and planted in a staggered fashion, ensuring there is the longest possible flowering for pollinators like insects, butterflies and bees.
Mark, says that “This was our target when we started – to grow enough nectar to feed a million bees on a single day... Every third bite of food you eat can be attributed to pollinators and we wanted to create an operation on our farm that did not push nature out but rather embraced it – as a central part of our eco system and our food cycle.”
Not forgetting the needs of farm and nature, the Hayward brothers have developed a rotational system for their pork production to allow both grass for the pigs and wildflowers.
Results have surpassed expectations- In 2020 a study showed that approx 1 million bumble bees were feeding from the wildflowers at any one time. Now on a hot day 1 square metre can contain 10-12 bumblebees. Additionally, the family monitors both the number and species of wildlife across all areas of the farm so they can continually assess the positive impact of their efforts.