Darwin Nurseries sits in 7.5 acres on the eastern edge of Cambridge city and is easily accessible from the town centre by car, bike or bus and is a mere two minutes from Junction 35 of the A14.
There is much to explore around the farm and encourage our visitors to wander round.
As you arrive and park the car you will see Bee Orchid Wood which was established in 2014 with trees donated to us by the Woodland Trust. Nestling amongst the trees is the magical Chestnut Cottage.
There is plenty of room for picnics and for children to let off steam safely or just sit and watch the animals.
We have two newly planted woodland areas. There is Bee Orchid Wood as you arrive and High Ditch Wood at the northern end of the farm beyond the orchard. Both have been planted with trees donated by the Woodland Trust. In total we have planted more than 1000 trees and shrubs in the past three years.
Bee Orchid Wood was planted in 2014 and has rapidly established and changed the landscape at the front. High Ditch Wood was planted over the winter of 2016. The aims of the design of the woodlands are to provide a shelter for our growing areas against the prevailing winds and to provide habitats and increase the biodiversity of Darwin Nurseries. This is very important as Cambridge is growing and spreading outwards so pockets of habitats for wildlife are vital.
The greenhouse is the hub of activity, especially during spring and summer where you can see us pot on bedding plants, make hanging baskets and sow and grow vegetables for sale.
Come in and look round and say hello. If you have any queries just ask. We are here to help.
The permaculture plots
This is our main growing area. All the vegetables we grow here are sold in our shop, Look out for "If we grow it we know it" signs in the shop. We have been working hard to build beds that are easy to manage following the ethos of permaculture. In short, permaculture is an intertwined holistic way of farming. It is the practice of working with, rather than against, nature through thoughtful observation, rather than thoughtless behaviour.
In practice here at Darwin there are many ways that we are striving to follow the permaculture ethos. We have been slowly developing our "no dig" beds. Our animal waste and bedding is composted and any green waste from the shop we have through stock rotation is either fed to the animals or composted. Then in time it is used to improve the soil in the growing beds.
We harvest rainwater from our greenhouse roof, which we use for irrigating our crops outside and watering plants in the greenhouse. It means we have reduced our mains water usage substantially and rain water is better for the plants. One heavy rain shower can fill our tank very quickly which is then stored in our large galvanised tank. It was installed by Fuller Water Systems in 2014 and has made a huge difference to the way we water and the quality of produce.
All cardboard is flattened and used as part of our mulching regime and as a natural weed barrier in pathways.
This is a beautiful traditional orchard with many varieties of apples, pears, plums, cherries and gages, some of which are local to Cambridgeshire - plus a small hazel tree plot that we coppice every seven years.
We proudly say that we use no chemicals on our fruits, so you could safely pick an apple off a tree rub it on your sleeve and savour the incredible flavour of the freshest fruit you can get. For the last two years in October we have had apple days where we make apple juice from our harvest, which we then sell in the shop. This has proved to be a popular event.
As you spend time and explore you will see a diverse array of wildlife. You may see kestrels, hear the resident green woodpecker and hear the call of buzzards as well as seeing rabbits and voles. If you are very lucky you may catch a glimpse of our resident barn owl.