2 August 2002

Black Poplar

IAN and Sarah Aldersons daughter Lauren has an ambition – she wants to be a FWAG Adviser – and at the age of 12 she and her family are already involved in the practical side. Some 110 years before she was born, around 1880, the map of their farm shows nine individual black poplar trees. Ian remembers them from his own early days, being impressed with their beauty even as a young boy.

The black poplar is now nationally rare, found only in a few areas and was selected by Ian as one of the four targets for his FWAG Farm Biodiversity Action Plan.

Keeping it in the family, Ians mother has taken cuttings and is growing them on as potential replacements because some of the elderly trees are coming to the end of their life-span with last winters gales took their toll. One is now left as a 20ft stump with the top blown out and two need some attention to avoid any danger of falling limbs.

The Alderson family (Ian, Sarah and Ians parents together with the younger generation Lauren, Harriett and Jim) are following the family farming tradition, Grandfather having moved to the 175ha (432 acre) farm near Craven Arms, Shrop nearly 50 years ago. Five hundred ewes are lambed, there is a small suckler herd and some 200 stores are fattened.

Ian thought he knew his farm but found the FWAG Farm BAP visit an eye opener – in a nice way. It pointed out things he had never noticed, giving them a value I had never appreciated – the black poplar being a prime example.