We know that people have lived on The Garlic Farm site for over 8,000 years. Since the early
hunter gatherer groups then farmers drank the water from the springs still bubbling out of the chalk beside the farm and benefited from the natural fold in the landscape which protects from the prevailing westerly wind. Everyone who lived here left a trace of their existence, in the form of flint handtools, pottery and artefacts which thanks to the archaeological work of the past twenty years can now be seen on display in our Heritage Centre.
Over the past 35 years Colin has personally planted over 20 acres of woodland around this site. If you study landscapes taken pre 1970 in our Heritage Centre you will see the complete dearth of trees and woodland on this site. It looks very bare. Trees, partly the fast growing Monterey Pine which shelters and draws up indigenous hardwoods underneath it, have dramatically changed the aspect of the site all around. Trees reaching now over 40-50 feet into the air accentuate the valley position of the farm and give shelter from the prevailing salt laden westerly winds.
Until 10 years ago we had never seen a red squirrel at Mersley, then one day one appeared in the farmhouse garden. Since then, as the corridors of trees leading from other woodlands have grown up to the farm, red squirrels have become a daily feature of our lives. Our visitors now take their meals watching the antics of red squirrels feeding from the hazel nut feeders outside.
We have a diverse flora and fauna here with some unusual plants appearing on our walks. Last year, to our great surprise, three beautiful bee orchids came from nowhere on the exposed verge leading to the farm, whilst fifty yards away in the marshland beside the car park several marsh orchids appeared.
The families who lived here before us were in equilibrium with their environment. We seek to do the same and when it is our turn to leave this site, we hope it is in a state that enables it to continue giving shelter, food and pleasure to all those who come here.