Jason Emrich, Land Agent / Estate Manager
The last few months at Knepp have been as surreal here as anywhere!
Everyone will have noticed the extra footfall from the general public visiting the countryside, and the impact this has had on us all in the community has for some been a positive experience and for others less so. Many areas of the countryside have been affected in this way and of course those visiting perhaps need the countryside more than anyone, perhaps not having access to green space as we all do. We have taken advantage of the dry summer to resurface some footpaths, but do please let us know if you think there are areas that could be improved.
After the well-publicised fledging of the white storks chicks (the first successful nesting since the fifteenth century!), our campsite and safari business was permitted to open again three months late in July and relative normality resumed. 16 extra people were employed this summer to help us cater for the visitors and overall the experience has been extremely positive, with an overwhelming post-Lockdown positive atmosphere prevailing, no doubt helped by the heavenly summer.
In amongst all the visitors, normal life for our livestock has prevailed; cows have calved, deer have fawned, ponies and pigs have also produced young. Wildlife has had a mixed year, with drought following the wet winter no doubt having an impact, but we have recently seen fabulous numbers of migratory birds flocking to feast before their long journey south for winter. Earlier in the summer it was a bumper year for nightingales which hopefully everyone enjoyed. It was also a very good year for turtle doves at Knepp and we had fleeting visits from rare birds including golden oriole and hoopoe. We recorded a new species of damselfly – the willow emerald – please let us know if you spot another, and please do follow Penny Green’s Knepp Wildland Podcasts for regular updates on points of interest as there is lots going on.
We managed to keep all of our 50 or so temporary and permanent staff employed during Covid, so far… many of us are now needing a well-earned rest, but we have some exciting new projects on the horizon too. In Shipley, we are soon to start a new and exciting farming project and are finalising the details as I write. We will chart progress in this newsletter so more details to come, however rest assured that it will chime with the over-arching principles of Knepp, and will be organic and in harmony with nature.
Knepp Wild Range, our meat retailing business has had a soft launch and as it evolves we hope to be able to supply fresh meat, but for now it sells frozen beef and venison from the campsite shop at Newbarn farm, and online.
The tragedy of ash dieback is making itself felt, and we have been trying hard to remove dangerous and dying trees close to public areas. We will be leaving many of these trees to die and collapse within the woods, as this natural process has an entire ecosystem dependent on it, but the task before us is enormous, and we would welcome anyone informing us of any dangerous trees that they feel need attention on the estate.
We have a fabulous community of residents and businesses that live or operate out of the estate’s buildings and we are mindful that we could probably do more to put everyone together in these straightened times, as not everyone uses the Shipley Facebook page. Did you know for example that there is a fabulous gym, a yoga business, a chocolate factory, gardeners, furniture makers, caterers, bicycle repair people, car mechanics and a skiing business all based on our doorstep?!