December, 2013


Welcome to this group for all farmers and anyone with an interest in farming. Read our blog to see how we're working with farmers and to find out where you can meet us at events.


Find out more about how we're working with farmers and others to provide space for farmland nature in the landscape. Join in the discussion on farming issues and share tips for wildlife-friendly farming.
  • A Festive Christmas Hamper part 3

    George Eustice (left) and Dr Mike Clarke (right)On Thursday, our Chief Executive Mike Clarke handed-in a Christmas hamper and card to Minister George Eustice to demonstrate the support we’ve had for wildlife-friendly farming.

    Over the past few days, we’ve showcased some products which were included in the hamper (see here and here). Today we’ll feature the last few lovely items included that have all come from farmers who work with wildlife in mind.

    Jordans Cereal

    Robert Law from Thrift Farm in Hertfordshire supplies oats for Jordans cereals, whose founder Bill Jordan pioneered the Conservation Grade farming scheme. His farm is a shining example of the integration of wildlife-friendly farming into a successful commercial business.

    Robert included the following message in the hamper:

    “I grow wheat, barley, oats and rye for The Jordan’s & Ryvita Company on my Conservation Grade farm, as well as rearing lambs that I sell locally. It makes sense to me to grow crops and rear livestock on my most productive land, and manage some of the less productive areas for wildlife.

    Through the work I’ve done, the farm is now an oasis for corn buntings, grey partridges and rare chalkhill blue butterflies. I’m always seeking to evaluate our progress and try new methods, focusing on what works best for the species on my farm. The results are vibrant, living proof that wildlife-friendly farming can be integrated into a successful commercial business.”

    West Yeo Farm Wool Liner and Socks

    The wool from West Yeo Farm is made from environmentally friendly fibres. The wool liner and socks are from Robert James and Kate Palmer’s organic sheep. 

    They included the following message in the hamper:

    “West Yeo Farm is a self-sufficient organic mixed farm in Devon. We don’t just produce the finest organic produce - we’re also passionate about conservation and traditional farming methods. Organic arable fields allow for rare arable weeds to grow, providing food for skylarks and yellowhammers.

    We sell our organic meat directly to our customers and produce organic wool products. It’s so rewarding to see how nature has responded - the farm is now alive with wildlife. However we need help from the Government to continue to farming as we are - there needs to be better understanding of these special places, and support for farming systems such as ours.”

    English Willow Hamper Basket

     PH Coate and Son has been growing 'Withies' and producing wicker baskets and willow products since 1819 and the willow hamper is handmade in Somerset, England.

    The following message was included with the basket:

    “Our company PH Coate and Son has been growing “withies” and producing wicker baskets since 1819.

    We’re based in the Somerset Levels. This unique landscape gives the perfect conditions for willow growing. During the summer months, the willow beds provide homes and shelter for many species of birds and other animals. Willow growing is part of the rich environmental heritage of this area. Both the commercial willow crops and the pollarded willow trees contribute to the character and image of the region.

    This hamper was created by one of our specialist basket weavers, using techniques that have been unchanged for generations.”

    Don't forget to click on the links above to find out more information about the products including where you can buy each item.

    And a final thank you to all who contributed to the 133,000 actions taken to support wildlife-friendly farming over the past few months and years. We hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

  • A Festive Christmas Hamper part 2

    Yesterday, the news of the Defra CAP deal emerged and it falls short of what nature needs for recovery. You can read our reaction here as well as thoughts from our Conservation Director Martin Harper here.

    You may have also seen our blog post earlier this week where we showcased three scrumptious items that are in the hamper that has been handed into Minister George Eustice. Today, we’re featuring three more lovely items which have all come from farmers who work with wildlife in mind.

    Gazegill Organics Award Winning Cheese

     These two Lancashire cheeses from Gazegill Organics have won awards at the British Cheese Awards. The creamy Lancashire won gold and crumbly won silver. They are made using raw organic grass fed milk from rare breed happy animals at Gazegill.

    Farmer Ian O’Reily included the following message in the hamper with his cheese:

    “Through sensitive and thoughtful farming practices, is it possible to produce profitable food without destroying natural habitats. Intensive practices are unnecessary, if we tackle waste in the food chain head-on, and return to seasonal variation in our diets. We manage our luxurious hedges for maximum yield of both wildlife and berries. Hoverflies and ladybirds abound helping us to keep other insects such as black flies under control. We also regularly see rabbits, foxes, badgers and deer.

    Our farm is a living, natural proof that farming and nature can work hand-in-hand, when we think outside of modern, intensified agriculture - and our cheeses have won several British Cheese Awards.”

    Honey and beeswax candles

     George Fenemore and his bees made Oxfordshire honey and beeswax candles at his farm in Cherwell Valley. The farm grows a range of combinable crops, sheep and a beekeeping enterprise.

    George included the following message in the hamper:

    “We’ve been involved in environmental and wildlife stewardship on our farm in Oxfordshire since 1974. We were awarded HLS in 2006 and we’ve really seen the difference, and it fits in well with my own love of the countryside and wildlife. Within two years of joining the scheme, redshanks bred for the first time in the Cherwell Valley, and I love to walk around the farm in the evening, and see the grey partridges and other wildlife.

    Our business has combinable crops, sheep and beekeeping enterprise selling honey. The bees forage the many habitats on the farm, and the candles are hand-made, from our own beeswax.”

    Drovers Hill Farm Cider and Apple Juice

     Drovers Hill Farm works with nature to create a healthy biodiverse farm. The organic cider and apple juice is made with no added sugar or preservatives so they taste exactly like the apples they were pressed from.

    Farmer Nicola Knop sent the following message with the hamper:

    “We bought our organic farm in the Chilterns in 2006. Back then, there was little wildlife – but in a short period of time, we’ve seen wildflowers return, along with even more bird diversity. We’ve planted our orchard with wildflower margins, and it’s helped to support lacewings, ladybirds, small mammals and hares.Owls are also returning. Supporting wildlife-friendly farming through funding is a great use of taxpayers’ money. It has enabled us to plant new hedges, and reverse the decline of rare chalk grassland.

    Our organic apple juice retains natural flavours and colours, and as such may vary from year to year. We make our organic ciders in a very traditional way, using our apple juice.”

    Look out for the last blog post tomorrow where we’ll feature the last of the lovely products and personal messages that are in the hamper. And don't forget to click on the links above to find out more information including where you can buy each item.

  • A Festive Christmas Hamper

    Tomorrow, our Chief Executive Mike Clarke will meet with George Eustice (Minister for Farming) to hand-in a festive Christmas hamper and card (see our previous post here for more details). This is to demonstrate the support we’ve had for wildlife-friendly farming - 133,000 actions taken!  

    Over the next few days, we’ll share with you the products included in the hamper as well as the personal messages from the people who made them. All the products come from farmers who work with wildlife in mind and today, we’re featuring three of the scrumptious foods.

    Padstow Pasta

     Padstow pasta in Cornwall is made using Tregirls Farm home-grown durum wheat and is 100% wholewheat.

    Farmer Charlie Watson Smyth values the wildlife-friendly farming payments - this is message he included in the hamper:

    “We have many special wildlife species on our farm and without wildlife-friendly farming payments, we would struggle to keep these species in Cornish landscape. We’re proud of our produce and wildlife, so having access to funding that recognises all of our work is the most valuable.

    My late father-in-law saw the last Cornish chough on his farm in 1976. I want my grandchildren to grow up watching a chattering of choughs at Tregirls like generations before.

    We make our unique Padstow pasta with our home-grown durum wheat, using an Italian pasta machine. The pasta is 100% wholewheat.”

    Hope Farm Extra-Virgin Rapeseed Oil

    Hope Farm’s extra-virgin rapeseed oil has been produced exclusively from rape seed grown on Hope Farm in Cambridgeshire that cares for wildlife as well as crops.

     Farm Manager Ian Dillon included the following message in the hamper:

    “At Hope Farm in Cambridgeshire our aim is to demonstrate that it is quite possible to successfully integrate high quality habitat for wildlife into our arable farm.

    We grow wheat, oil seed rape, field beans and peas, whilst delivering crucial habitat and resources for wildlife through Environmental Stewardship. I’m so pleased to report that we’re increasing our numbers of farmland birds, including skylarks, whilst still producing great crop yields.

    We started selling our Hope Farm rapeseed oil in 2013. I hope you enjoy it, knowing that it has been produced on a farm that cares for wildlife as well as crops.”

    Munns Goose Fat

    Munns free-range goose fat has become very popular with the public thanks to many celebrity chefs using it!

     Farmer George Munns of Westmore Farm in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, has been a fan of wildlife since childhood. This is the message he sent:

    “We love the environment and the countryside within which we live and bring up our daughter. My own passion has always been nature and wildlife conservation. As a boy, I had a large number of wildlife books and spent my spare time exploring the farm, looking for the species that lived here. When I took over the farm I wanted to provide and improve habitat for these species, many of which were hanging on with very low populations. I jumped at the chance to join the prestigious Countryside Stewardship scheme in 2001. Now, water voles, lapwings, reed buntings, corn buntings and grey partridges are all thriving, and tree sparrows are nesting here again. We've had a flock of free-range geese since 1999 when we had 20 birds. We've now expanded to over 1,000 geese. Our Munns Goose Fat is gaining popularity, and is sold in many parts of the UK.

    This gives you a flavour of just three of the items included in the hamper. Look out for the other blog posts over the next few days where we will share with you some more lovely products and personal messages. And don't forget to click on the links above to find out more information including where you can buy each item.