Donkey charity proves loving our land can reap rewards

man in field cutting grass

Daniel Brown trimming the grass with a scythe - Credit: The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth recently hosted ‘Loving our Land’ - an afternoon where visitors learnt
 
Guests heard about the work of The Donkey Sanctuary’s Ecology and Conservation team and watched a demonstration of grass cutting using the traditional method of scything, by Ecology and Conservation officer Daniel Brown.  
  
The event was part of the Taste East Devon nine-day food and drink festival, which aimed to celebrate the incredible food and drink on offer throughout the region. The afternoon also included a hearty two-course vegan meal in The Donkey Sanctuary’s award-winning restaurant The Kitchen. 
 
Set in East Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Donkey Sanctuary manages its grassland and wildflower meadows to provide the resident donkeys with a healthy and sustainable environment.   
  
There has been a huge renaissance in scything, and a lot of people are keen to reconnect with this traditional method of cutting grass by hand, using a large, curved blade. Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, scything is less disruptive than machinery. It also allows for a more selective method of cutting, and by mowing over time, helps to create a greater habitat diversity.  
  
The Donkey Sanctuary’s Ecology and Conservation manager Ruth Angell said: “Managing the land in this way not only supports the wildlife living around the sanctuary, but also supports the health of the resident herd, providing enrichment opportunities that allow them to exhibit more of their natural behaviours.”  
   
The Donkey Sanctuary prides itself on serving locally sourced seasonal produce where possible, and diners were treated to a specially prepared menu by resident sanctuary chef Chris Morris and his team.  
  
Other participants in the Taste East Devon festival, included Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Michael Caines MBE, Darts Farm, River Cottage, Deer Park Country House, East Devon AONB, Mazzard Farm, Jack in the Green, Otter Brewery and Lympstone Manor. The event culminated at The Pig at Combe’s Summer Party in Gittisham.


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