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Dog Walkers wrecking community farm field
A COMMUNITY farm in Laverstock has been forced to pay out thousands of pounds to protect a conservation project that is being destroyed by dog walkers.
The River Bourne Community Farm is also facing not being able to deliver its educational facilities if the project to reintroduce species of plants and wildlife fails.
The farm has had to pay more than £3,000 towards the cost of putting up a fence around a field it is renting next to its site in Cow Lane as some dog walkers were not sticking to the pathway or keeping animals on leads.
But despite explaining the situation to local residents the farm has suffered a backlash, with signs and fencing being damaged or pulled down.
Staff are also concerned about the welfare of sheep that have been put on the land as part of the development programme, as one was left lame after being attacked by a dog.
“We are very surprised at the aggression we are receiving,”
said Jane Wilkinson, farm office manager. “It is massively important that the field works for us to keep the farm going and for the community to enjoy it.
“If we can’t develop the field then it is lost for everybody; it will be closed off altogether because it is a private field.
“Natural England will be within its rights to claim back £100,000 in capital works funding.
“This, together with the funding we will lose over the next eight years, will jeopardise the future of the farm.”
The farm relies on grant funding from the organisation to deliver its educational facilities.
Natural England funding has helped pay for the building of a straw bale classroom and it enables about 50 groups of schoolchildren a year to visit the farm for free.
“We would appeal to these few people to please stay on the permissive path which has been provided through the field to the Downs and allow the farm to develop the field,”
said Mrs Wilkinson.
If the farm can keep the project going it hopes to attract lapwing, skylark, corn bunting and yellowhammer birds in the next few years, as well as cowslip and wild thyme.
Mrs Wilkinson said: “It is important that it is undisturbed and allowed to develop.”
PCSO Rachel Gunn, from Alderbury Police Station, is reminding people that the reported damage is a criminal offence.
Anyone with information is asked to contact her on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.