The business is beginning to be of a size that’s making a material difference. We’ve sold enough wildflower and grass seed to sow over 500 acres and plants for over 20km of native hedge, for example. Most of this has gone towards habitat creation rather than restoration, which is particularly exciting.
We’ve become a corporate member of the invaluable National Biodiversity Network, and in addition to supporting our usual charities we’ve been able to help some smaller ones. At the Invertebrate Conservation Conference I found out about the Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum, for example. I hope that these donations are genuinely helpful; small conservation charities are pretty close to the bottom of the pecking order for funding, which in these straitened times is more often than not non-existent anyway.
We’ve been doing a lot of work with two solar developers, Good Energy and Solar Century. I know folk are divided over solar farms, but I am very bullish about the projects we are involved in. Our partners in this area needed to be chosen very carefully, and the work we’re doing for them constitutes much more than just visual mitigation. The solar farms we’ve been working on will be largely (if not totally) invisible biodiversity hot spots of between 10 and 80 acres. Next year we’re working on three sites of over 200 acres! They might not look like it, but these will effectively become nature reserves. Everyone gains from this kind of project – just the sort of thing Habitat Aid was set up to promote and facilitate.
What’s else is happening with us in 2015? We’re revamping the website, to be finished in January (maybe!). At the moment our business is nearly entirely non-retail, which makes me unhappy, so this should help to rebalance it. We’ll also be able to introduce regular offers for readers of our newsletter. I’ve got one or two other interesting ideas too.
At Hookgate Cottage our new garden is almost finished but there will doubtless be much more work to do before the current swamp out there turns to concrete in the summer. In the meantime I’m doing an RHS course, which is reinforcing my view that I know nothing about anything. The only way is up!