Deep in the heart of Chew Valley, lies the Chew Magna Community Farm social enterprise.
Established in 2011, the Somerset based project grows and sells locally-sourced, seasonal produce that’s 100% organic. Working with organic producers and local farmers, the team run a box delivery service which supplies hundreds of homes throughout Bath, Bristol, The Chew Valley, Frome and Weston-Super-Mare. Environmental sustainability, community engagement and nature-friendly farming are key focuses of the farm.
Professor Selena Gray, volunteer and academic, has been involved in the farm since its inception, and has taken a particular interest in promoting and supporting wildlife, and in monitoring the impact changes in land management has on increasing the biodiversity at the farm, especially those aimed at increasing the number of visiting pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Originally, sightings of wildlife were just logged for monthly using paper based surveys, and noting other wildlife interests such as unusual insects and birds on blackboards. Although this did enable all visitors to the farm to see what insects and creatures were visiting, it meant that there was no consistency with information, recordings may have been missed and there was no clear way in which the information could be easily monitored and reported on in the long term in order to help them improve.
“We’re incredibly pleased with the app we’ve created using Coreo. It’s incredible to think that, as self professed technophobes, we have been able to build something so sophisticated, useful and user friendly, so easily.”Selena Gray Professor at the University of the West of England (UWE)
Before the dedicated biodiversity project, the Community Farm had always had an environmental focus that went beyond organic farming.
Visitors and members had previously taken part in data collection citizen science projects such as the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s monthly bee walk and also the Big Butterfly Count, a Natural Apptitude project – so software was not a new concept to the team.
Whilst working on a research project, Selena met our CEO, Dave, who explained how Coreo could support the work that the Community Farm was undertaking by giving them the ability to build their own data collection app with ID guide in minimal time and from that, collect and record the data in situ.
After trialling an app, Selena decided that Coreo would be of great benefit to the members of the farm and help them to make a genuine, positive impact on biodiversity levels.
Along with two volunteers Selena built the Community Farm app which is now being used to log wildlife sightings across all 15 hectares of the farm. Over the medium-long term Selena and her team will be using the data to understand what biodiversity they already have on the farm and learn in which ways they could adapt farming practices to improve the wildlife it supports, such as planting wildflower meadows.
Coreo has just started being used by 2 team members on the farm to monitor wildlife. Despite the use of the app still being in its infancy, there has been a very positive response to the project and, in its first weeks, many pollinator records have been collected, including late season bumblebees and butterflies, including the beautiful small copper butterfly shown above.
There is potential for the app to be used to support a variety of projects on the farm, not just recording biodiversity.
Selena comments ‘’We’re incredibly pleased with the app we’ve created using Coreo. It’s incredible to think that, as self professed technophobes, we have been able to build something so sophisticated, useful and user friendly, so easily. When building the app there were really only a few moments where we didn’t immediately understand what to do next. However, the tutorial and documentation quickly got us back on track and the fact we nearly finished the app without reading any support documentation is a real testament to the design of the product. It’s such an easy platform to use, and the team behind it couldn’t be more supportive.”
“Projects like these are why we developed Coreo. From concept to release, the control of the app is with the user, meaning they are able to collect the exact data they want in a way that suits them.
Community projects are a wonderful way to engage people and monitor biodiversity on a local scale, and we love supporting people and organisations that are looking to encourage wildlife.“