Rural Hub News

All the news about the Warwickshire Rural Hub

Syngenta film our first You Tube video  

on the farm which won the Forsyth Lapwing Trophy for 2019

Our Forsyth Lapwing Trophy for 2019 was won by Thomas Maynard of Home Farm, Hatton Estate.  The award recognises the successful integration of commercial agriculture with conservation of wildlife on a Warwickshire farm.  Ordinarily the Rural Hub would have organised a farm walk on Home Farm during summer 2020 to view the conservation work, but due to the coronavirus pandemic we were unable to hold the walk.  Fortunately the sponsors of the award, Syngenta, agreed to help us film a short video of the farm and an interview with Thomas.  Their UK Sustainable Farming Manager, Belinda Bailey, acted as the interviewer and Joe Bagshaw operated the drone and shot and edited the film.  Our thanks go to Belinda, Joe and Thomas for sparing the time to make the video (8 minutes) which is available to view on our Webinars page. 

The Forsyth Lapwing Trophy has been re-branded the Rural Hub Environmental Farming Award for 2021.  To find out how to enter the award next year please visit our Environmental Farming page.  

 

 

 

Rural Hub commence a programme of webinars  

which are available on a new page on our website

Following the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020 the Rural Hub put its event programme for the year on hold.  Further details on when physical events will be re-organised will be posted on the home page of our website.   But we have replaced physical events with a new programme of webinars, run in association with our business supporters and partner organisations.  Our first two Zoom events were held with the Arden Farm Wildlife Network and covered the topics of Using Ground Beetles for Pest Control and Reducing Farm Carbon Emissions.   And on 9 July we joined up with business supporter Lodders to run a webinar on the Importance of Farm Partnerships Agreements and Succession Planning.  A recording of this webinar can be viewed on a new Webinar page on our website.    We intend to upload recordings of further webinars as they are organised.  

Rural businesses show great resilience  

in reacting to the challenges presented by Covid-19

Forward-thinking rural businesses are showing their innovative expertise and exploring new markets during the coronavirus outbreak, a new in-depth survey has revealed.  The data was collected by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub via the Warwickshire Rural Hub.  The results were included in the latest CWLEP Growth Hub SmartRegion report (June 9-22) which also gathered information from the CWLEP’s business engagements and survey data, Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, the Federation of Small Businesses and the National Farmers Union.

Of the people who responded to the Warwickshire Rural Hub survey 53% of responders were sole traders, 37% were micro businesses and10% were small or medium businesses

95% of respondents said that their business had been adversely impacted by Covid-19 with 53% seeing their business temporarily cease trading.   To cope with the impact of Covid-19 businesses had:

  • furloughed staff
  • temporarily changed their products
  • sought new supply chains
  • changed staff working patterns

But there is positive news too, which shows the resilience of our rural business community:

69% of businesses were undertaking innovation
37% of respondents were investing in their business
53% of businesses were looking to diversify
42% were exploring new markets

And a fast Broadband connection was felt to be the single most important issue for rural business development.  The Rural Hub is now working with the CW Growth Hub to analyse the results and pass on intelligence to contacts in local government to influence future support for the rural sector.

Reducing farm carbon emissions 

with the Farm Carbon Toolkit

Our second Zoom event with the Arden Farm Wildlife Network took place on 30 June when we watched a demonstration of the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit by Becky Willson of the Soil Carbon Project.   Becky firstly explained that the aim of the toolkit was to encourage and support farmers and growers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, increase their farm energy resilience and in doing so improve their farm business in the future.  Identifying the C footprint of a business is the first vital step in being able to quantify the contribution that the farm is making to climate change and the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit was developed by farmers, for farmers, and is free to use.   After reviewing where emissions come from on arable and livestock farms Becky then talked about key actions for reducing them and carbon sequestration options.   One of the take home messages is that the time to act is NOW!    Becky can be contacted at becky.willson@farmcarbontoolkit.org.uk

Using ground beetles 

for pest control

Following the restrictions on social interaction all Rural Hub events for 2020 were cancelled in mid-March.  But on 17 June we joined up with the Arden Farm Wildlife Network to hold our first virtual Zoom event.  Twenty three participants logged on to hear from PhD student Kelly Jowett from Rothamsted who is investigating how to improve farm habitat management towards boosting the populations of carabid beetles – which in turn will improve natural enemy pest control in crops and pastures. A vital part of Kelly’s research is gathering information and opinions of farmers to feed into making applicable research outputs.  Kelly played us her YouTube video which shows why and how carabid beetles should be encouraged to farms and also showed us how to set up pitfall trapping and carabid monitoring on farms.  We also learned that most beetles forage within 5m of field margins but establishing a beetle bank will encourage them to visit the centre of the crop.   But unlike other beneficial insects, it is not possible to buy carabids online and introduce them to your crop as it is very difficult to breed them under laboratory conditions.

Feedback on this first Zoom event was very positive so we would like to thank the Arden Farm Wildlife Network for setting up the presentation and Kelly Jowett for sparing the time to speak to us.    If you would like to complete Kelly’s survey on carabids on farm to assist her research this can be accessed on this page.

How to pitfall trap on your farm

 

Soil biology

and plant health

Rural Hub members joined up with the Arden Farm Wildlife Project on Tuesday 25 February 2020 at a event about soil health and plant biology.  The first speaker was Mike Harrington of Edaphos, who spoke about creating the solutions necessary to facilitate the best of farm systems, from organic agriculture and biodynamics to agroecology.  His philosophy is to improve soil and plant health, whilst harnessing the soils stored resources to their full potential to achieve a healthy, well balanced system.  Dr Felicity Crotty, a lecturer in soil science and ecology at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester who specialises in healthy soils and soil biology in both grassland and arable systems was the second speaker.   One fascinating fact from the event was that the weight of creatures living in healthy soil is heavier than the livestock in the field.  That’s a lot of worms!  Thank you to Zoe Bell for organising the event and Squab Hall for acting as host.  

Massage therapist helps to reduce tension

during second health and wellbeing event

We held our second Health and Wellbeing event at Rugby Farmers’ Market café on Monday 17 February 2020.  The room was buzzing with farmers who had come to buy and sell livestock and we used the occasion to offer them a free stress-busting massage with Maya, our massage therapist.  Maya had a steady stream of visitors who gave great feedback on the benefits of her massage, which can include reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, reduction of stress hormones and increase in joint mobility and flexibility.  Farming Community Network distributed free copies of their publication “Fit for Farming” and had several meaningful conversations with visitors to their stand.  We will be back again on Monday 6 April – this time with the addition of two senior nurses.  

Cover crops and green manures 

with Kings Crops

Over thirty farmers and members of the Rural Hub and Arden Farm Wildlife Project visited Pleasance Farm in Kenilworth on 28 January 2020 to hear all about cover crops for wildlife and green manures. Richard Barnes from Kings Crops explained how winter cover crops can be tailored to provide habitat for wildlife, as well as improving soils. He also gave us some ideas of which crops can be used as summer cover/green manures for fields which are left unplanted in the spring.

Thanks must go to Henry Lucas for acting as host and Zoe Bell of the Arden Farm Wildlife Project for organising the event.

Workshop on RDPE Growth Programme funding  

for small businesses in rural Warwickshire 

 
Nearly 100 people attended two workshops on 6 and 9 December 2019 giving information on the RDPE Growth Programme funding, which is open for expressions of interest until 16 February 2020.
 
Speakers from the Rural Payments Agency gave full information on the criteria for applications under the three programmes of business development, food and drink processing and rural tourism and gave tips and hints on how to best complete the expression of interest form.  David Cooke from Hill Farm Marina, who along with his business partner was successful in being awarded a grant to develop a marina and cafe in Wootton Wawen, then gave the applicant’s perspective.  A lively question and answer session completed the workshops.
 
Staff from the Economy and Skills Department of Warwickshire County Council, who organised the events, were on hand to provide support, along with representatives from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Warwickshire Rural Hub.
 

In previous rounds, businesses in rural Warwickshire have been allocated £2.6 million in financial support. Farm diversification and food & drink are two of the priorities for the business development grants in 2020 (as well as there being separate grants for food processing and rural tourism).  To find out more about the grant programme please visit this page.  

 

Helping hedgehogs to thrive on farmland

with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Counting hedgehogs is difficult but there is no doubt that there has been a serious decline in numbers since the millennium.  So on Tuesday 12 November 2019 we heard all about how we can encourage hedgehogs to farmland when Dr Debbie Wright, Senior Hedgehog Officer at the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, led an event at Gate Farm, Fen End by kind permission of Susie Hammett.  
 
Firstly, we undertook a tour of Gate Farm to look at habitats that are favoured by hedgehogs before we returned to the training room to watch a fascinating presentation that told us all about the different species around the world, the lifecycle of our own species of hedgehog, the reasons for its decline in numbers and what we can all do to help them to thrive.   Everyone present learned something new about our prickly friends and went home determined to help them remain part of our diverse countryside.

 

 

 
 

Achieve your goals with less stress

with Focussed Farmers

 

 

 

How to train our minds to achieve our goals with less stress was the subject covered by Holly Beckett at the Kenilworth and District Agricultural Society/Rural Hub talk on 6 November 2019.
 
Holly Beckett is a 2015 Nuffield Scholar and fourth generation farmer from Warwickshire who received funding from the Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust to pilot the introduction of the latest latest developments in psychology within the ag-sector.   During her talk Holly explained how the average “normal” person is attuned to the present moment for 1% of the time but through brain training and the practice of mindfulness our attention can be improved.  Holly has set up the Focussed Farmers project which provides a set of resources including a free video series which helps farmers and ag-sector workers define their goals and put purposeful focus into action.   During the talk the audience engaged in some mindfulness training and hopefully left the event feeling less stressed and determined to continue their brain training!
 

Using social media to promote your business

with NFU and Sunflower VA

How to use social media to promote farming and rural businesses was the topic discussed at our event on 24 October 2019.

Hosted by NFU our first speaker was their social media lead, Charlotte Coates.  Charlotte explained how NFU used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote a positive message for farming and to raise the profiles of their campaigns.  The growing importance of using short videos was highlighted and we all learned how to take a good selfie!    Sharing beautiful shots of our countryside, tagging key influencers, following industry hashtags and showing pride in our industry were Charlotte’s top tips.   We also learned how to deal with any negativity.  Our second speaker was Amanda Morris from Sunflower VA who gave some case studies of local businesses who had successfully raised their profile through social media, some statistics on why every business needed to get social and tips on the best times of day to post stories and tweets.    There was plenty of questions from the floor as many members of the audience used their iPads and ‘phones to get online. 

We would like to thank Charlotte and Amanda for delivering their wisdom and George Bostock, NFU Warwickshire Assistant Adviser, for his help in organising the room.

 

 

Making the most of your rural property assets

with Rural Hub Business Supporters

 

Diversification via development of rural property assets was the theme of the Rural Hub event on 24 September 2019 at Deer Park Hall, Eckington near Pershore. Rural Hub Business supporters sponsored the event and provided the speakers. Firstly, Dan Jackson from Sheldon Bosley Knight explained the rules behind Class Q permitted development rights of agricultural buildings. Then Daniel O’Donnell of Rosconn Strategic Land gave an overview of Promotion Agreements. The letting of agricultural buildings was covered by Tony Rowland of Sheldon Bosley Knight and the seminar concluded with a presentation by Douglas Godwin of Parkinson Wright on the legal perspectives to consider. Breakfast bacon rolls gave the delegates plenty of time to network. The Rural Hub would like to thank its business supporters for their sponsorship of this event.

 

 

Biodiversity offsetting

What is it?

Biodiversity offsets are conservation activities in one location that compensate for losses in another (e.g. following housing developments). Landowners are ideal candidates to create new habitats – such as ponds, woodlands and hedgerows – to replace those that have been lost and Warwickshire County Council is looking for landowners who would like to enter long-term funding agreements. that can cover 100% of the costs. At our event on 10 September 2019 delegates heard from David Lowe of WCC who gave an overview of biodiversity offsetting, the few rules that will need to be complied with through the legal agreement and offered landowners the opportunity to write their own grant scheme and payment terms. The NFU then gave its own perspective on the scheme and explained how they would prefer marginal areas of land to be used in the scheme, rather than land that is currently producing food. We would like to thank NFU for hosting the event and providing lunch.

 

 

Thomas Maynard of Hatton Farms Ltd

wins Forsyth Lapwing Trophy for 2019

Thomas Maynard, Director of Hatton Farms Ltd, was announced as the winner of the Forsyth Lapwing Trophy for 2019 at a Syngenta farmer’s meeting on 1 July 2019.  The trophy, sponsored by Syngenta, is awarded for excellence in environmental farming and conservation on a commercial Warwickshire farm.

As well as retaining and managing such features for wildlife as woodlands, ponds and hedges Thomas has also taken an archaeological feature out of cultivation.   Winter bird seed plots, beetle banks and pollen and nectar mixes have been introduced to the farm and Tom uses grass leys to help control black grass and on arable headlands to improve arable gross margins, field operation efficiency and improve soil structure.  Hatton Farms hosts regular visits from schools and bird surveys.  Thomas Maynard was presented with the Forsyth Lapwing Trophy to retain for one year plus a Syngenta seed mixes voucher by south Warwickshire farmer Anthony Forsyth.  The runner-up for 2019 was Jonathan Hince, Farm Manager of HJ and CF Beecham of Tidmington, near Shipston on Stour.

Photo: Left to Right – Jonathan Hince, Anthony Forsyth, Thomas Maynard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Hub helps to inspire its Members to do something different, to embrace change and learn from each other.”

Henry Lucas,
Warwickshire Rural Hub Chair

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A donation to the Rural Hub of any amount is always gratefully received. However, only donations of over £100 can be acknowledged on our Hub Supporter's page.  A donation can be paid by cheque, BACS, standing order or by the Paypal link below.  If you would like our bank details please contact the Co-ordinator on info@ruralhub.org.uk 

 

 

 

Contact Us

The Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC
c/o Pleasance Farm, Kenilworth
Warwickshire, CV8 1PR

Email: info@ruralhub.org.uk
Tel: 07780 159291

Company Registration No: 7026157
Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA

 

Hub Chair

Henry Lucas
E: henrylucas76@gmail.com

 

Hub

Co-ordinator

Jane Hampson
E: info@ruralhub.org.uk

Tel: 07780 159291

Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Henry Lucas (Chair)
Graham Collier (Deputy Chair)
Karen Ellis
Carrie Robbins
Alexandra Robinson

Hub Steering Group Members

George Bostock, NFU
Mark Dickin, Ellacotts Accountants
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
Alexandra Robinson, Wright Hassall LLP
Matt Willmott, King's Seeds
Jon Slee, Abbey Farm
Andrew Cook, Farmer
Emlyn Evans, Squab Hall

Disclaimer

The Warwickshire Rural Hub accepts no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained on this website.

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