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The Lost Gardens Receive a Squeal of Approval!

June 13, 2018 Visit Europe No Comments Email Email

The world famous Lost Gardens of Heligan is proud to have been awardedRare Breed Farm Park status by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, making itthe first rare breeds park in the whole of the South West!

On Thursday 7th June, in the Rare Breeds Tent at the Royal Cornwall Show, the all-important certificate from the RBST was presented to Laura Smit of Heligan by Gale Sprake, RBST chair of the board of trustees and Nicole Lander, acting CEO for RBST, bringing a 30 year old father and daughter vision to completion.

It all started in 1988, not long after Tim Smit and family had relocated to Cornwall, when the family’s first trip to the county’s Royal Cornwall Show turned into a pivotal moment.  “We spent most of the day captivated by the Rare Breeds Tent and its inhabitants, all of us dreaming about our new home in the country and the opportunity to have our own menagerie. It was the start of a lifelong love affair of rare breed animals for both Laura and Tim” – Candy Smit

Whilst searching for land to home his vision of a Rare Breeds Park, Tim came across the gardens and estate at Heligan. The discovery of the gardeners’ names on the wall of the Thunderbox Room changed the course of travel and Tim was fired by a passion to restore the gardens ‘In their name’. The Lost Gardens of Heligan were re-born and developed to become Europe’s largest garden restoration as well as this year’s “Garden of the Year” – BBC Countryfile Awards

Restoration of Heligan’s historic estate has run alongside the restoration of the gardens with ancient woodlands, pasture and wetland all being managed in traditional ways with low impact grazing and an increasing collection of rare breed animals; highlighting the historic breeds that would have once blessed our countryside.

“The Lost Gardens are now home to 18 rare and native breeds of livestock and over 20 breeds of poultry. Our livestock is chosen not only for its appearance and gentle nature but also for its ability to complete a job around our estate, as well as to provide a variety of tastes and meat for the Heligan Kitchen.”  – Laura Smit, Heligan Livestock Experience Co-ordinator

Traditional native breeds are a symbol of the UK’s national heritage, but are unfortunately often deemed less important compared to historic buildings, native wildlife, landscapes or rare plants. Ironically, historical agricultural fortunes funded these buildings, current landscape appearance and the survival of much flora actually depends on these relatively neglected rare breeds of native livestock.

Heligan’s accreditation and collaboration with the RBST will also mean that visitors to the gardens will get to witness the next generation of rare breeds coming into the world as Heligan embarks upon an ambitious breeding programme; meaning Heligan visitors can expect to be enthralled by the heart-warming sight and sounds of chicks, lambs, calves and piglets throughout the year!

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