Barrow Voice      First Publised 1975

            Issue 158 Winter 2019

3,234 copies published quarterly and delivered FREE to all households in Barrow upon Soar

Give the birds a Christmas Feast

While humans gorge themselves on turkey or celebration nut roast, spare a thought for the robins, the blue tits, and the blackbirds. Hilary and Andy Wiles of Brinvale Farm, Long Clawson have the ambition to get everyone feeding the birds all the time and not just at Christmas: “Our vision has been to get the nation feeding wild birds. Our plan to achieve this has been through providing top quality bird feed at affordable prices, with first-class service”, they say with pride. They report a massive increase in public interest in feeding birds. Their own business has shown a 30% increase in this last financial year.

I went to meet Hilary and Andy at their farm in October. It’s a lovely 15 minute drive into Belvoir country. They come from a family of four generations of arable farmers, farming right in the heart of Long Clawson. Twenty years ago, as Long Clawson (of Stilton fame) was rapidly developing, it made sense to move to the outskirts and build a new farm – Brinvale which is now farmed by son Richard.

At the time, one of the uses of their grain was mixed corn for poultry. While visiting a local garden centre in 2004 they noticed bags of bird food. The conversation went something like “That’s a good idea. We could make bird food. Let’s try it. ‘’ They made a ton, found a market and developed a thriving business to supply wholesalers with a range of bird food mixtures. Next they became online retailers of top quality bird food to private households. They grow much of the grain on the farm including millet, canary seed and other grains used for bird food. Much of the rest is acquired from producers as locally as possible. They are highly knowledgeable about the needs of all sorts of wild birds and are very careful not to bulk out with wheat or barley. Their farming is fully bird-friendly with nesting borders in their fields, plenty of hedges, a wildlife pond and a regime that favours the flourishing of wild flowers and insects. You can see full bird feeders - and birds - everywhere. Watching this growth in interest in feeding garden birds, they have built a retail shop on the farm and want to encourage local people to visit them, see how an arable farm can be both a successful business and a wildlife haven, enjoy the scenery and buy their top quality bird food at extremely competitive prices. I certainly did all those things when I visited Hilary and Andy! I could have bought feeders and fat balls too. All in all, it was an enjoyable trip out. Perhaps you might care to pay a visit yourself and give your garden birds a feast – and not just for Christmas.

Judith Rodgers


Barrow Voice is published by Barrow upon Soar Community Association.(BUSCA)
Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the editorial committee or the Community Association.

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