Rural Hub News

All the news about the Warwickshire Rural Hub

Staying positive about agricultural transition

on a beautiful summer evening

Stay positive about agricultural transition was the advice from Jim Egan of Kings Crops at our farm walk at Weston Hall Farm on 21 June 2022, kindly hosted by Alistair MacGregor. Jim gave us information on the new funding streams available under ELMS and colleague Meehal Grint gave advice on managing the wildlife areas that we viewed on the farm. Upon return to the farmyard we all enjoyed Napton Buffalo Burgers and drinks, sponsored by Rural Hub business supporter, Syngenta. It was a beautiful summer evening and a fantastic event.

Vines and Wines

on our visit to a north Warwickshire farm

Blabers Hall in Fillongley planted their first vines in 2018 and now produce 6 different wines.   On the afternoon of 25 May 2022 Rural Hub members were treated to a tour of the 6 acre vineyard by owners Clarke and Adele Adams, who explained all about their arrival at the farm, research into new business ventures and why they decided to start a winery.  We also heard about the process of planting, growing, harvesting and processing grapes and how Clarke and Adele market their wines.  On our return to the farm buildings we then tasted a range of their produce.

Also joining us on this event were representatives from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber and the CW Growth Hub, who explained about the free support available for small and medium businesses in Warwickshire operating in the hospitality sector.

The event was a great networking opportunity for all concerned. 

The early bird

catches the bacon roll

Our early bird walk led held on 30 April and led by famed naturalist Ed Drewitt was a fully booked event! Organised in association with the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and hosted by Miranda and Uli at Village Farm in Marton we had great feedback about the location and Ed’s bird ID skills. After the walk all participants enjoyed freshly cooked bacon rolls and tea (with vegetarian and vegan alternatives being available).

Eight farmers referred to their GP

during our health event on 14 April

There was more on offer than a good breakfast in the Rugby Farmers’ Mart cafe on Thursday 14 April. The farmers attending the livestock sales were also able to meet 2 senior nurses, receive a blood pressure reading, enjoy a free shoulder and back massage and chat to Farming Community Network volunteers.

This was our fifth health event at the market and the second kindly funded by The Prince’s Countryside Fund. Maya our massage therapist gave out 9 massages to farmers with aching muscles and Anne and Paula from Parish Nursing referred 8 farmers to see their GP for hypertension.
 
The private consultations which were conducted confirmed that farming can be tough; the constant pressure and the difficulty of taking a decent break away from the farm can take its toll. Looking after our health has therefore never been more important.
 
Thank you to Rugby Farmers’ Mart and David and Cindy the caterers for their support.

A Change of Chair

for Warwickshire Rural Hub

After 19 years in post Kenilworth farmer, Henry Lucas, retired as Chair of the Warwickshire Rural Hub on 10 March 2022.  Henry was one of the people instrumental in establishing the Rural Hub in 2003 and took the Chair of the first meeting in August of that year.  He worked with four Co-ordinators – Victoria, Emma, Carrie and Jane – and oversaw the Rural Hub through its journey from a fledging idea to a charitable incorporated organisation with 15 business supporters and1200 members which is part of The Prince’s Countryside Fund Farm Support Group Network.  We would like to thank Henry for his passion and commitment over so many years.  We will be honouring his contribution at a special event in the summer.

The new Chair of the Warwickshire Rural Hub is Karen Elis.  Karen is well-known in the farming community of Warwickshire through her voluntary work with the Farming Community Network and her membership of many rural organisations in the county.  We look forward to working with Karen as we move forward with the development of our health and welfare events and our 3 sustainable farming groups.

Encouraging farmers in Warwickshire

to take better care for their health

Our fourth health and welfare event at Rugby Farmers’ Mart on 21 February 2022 saw our nurses from Parish Nursing engage with 32 farmers in the livestock market cafe and conduct 6 private consultations regarding health issues.   Two of these farmers had worryingly high blood pressure readings and were given letters to take to their GP.  Meanwhile, our massage therapist Maya had a queue of clients waiting for a free stress-busting massage.  Volunteers from Farming Community Network chatted about general farming issues with visitors to the cafe and we also promoted the new RABI mental health helpline, which is available 24/7 without a clinical referral.  

The following day one farmer emailed us to say: “Thank you so much for today’s session. It came at a very useful time for me, and both Maya’s massage and the BP reading have given me real help and insight into my current problems”.

This event was the first of ten funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund and we will be returning to Rugby Farmers’ Mart cafe on 14 April.  Locations in north and south Warwickshire are also being organised.

The many and varied benefits

of managing a healthy hedge

We continued our series of webinars on 20 January 2022 when Megan Gimber and Ian White of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species gave us a Zoom presentation on Healthy Hedges and their benefit to our dormice population and other wildlife. Megan told us an 85m stretch of hedge had been shown to be hosting over 270 species of wildlife, some of which were helping with pest control. Hedges also act as windbreaks, support pollinators, reduce soil erosion, help with flood prevention and soak up pollution and carbon.
 
A good hedge contains a variety of plants with some trees, varies in height and width, has structural complexity, has good connectivity and has a dense base next to a margin. But only 31% of hedges are in good condition and this reduces to 10% of hedges on arable land.
 
For advice on how to manage your hedges correctly download the free Healthy Hedges app.

Regenerating the tree sparrow population

in Warwickshire

Our webinar presentation on 9 December 2021 featured Matt Prior, who has been running a successful project on the Marlborough Downs to regenerate the tree sparrow population.

As many of their nesting sites have been lost due to the felling of diseased elm and ash trees, the project erected nest boxes between 6 and 12 feet high facing north east to encourage nesting. It is also important that the entrance hole to the box is no larger than 30mm, so that house sparrows are unable to use them. We also heard all about a tree sparrow’s favourite food and how they have variable winter survival rates with a wet winter being catastrophic for the population. We had fantastic feedback comments from the Rural Hub members who attended the presentation so thank you Matt for inspiring us to help tree sparrows in Warwickshire.

Our third farmer health and welfare event

sees the nurses conduct an increased number of private consultations

We held our third farmer health and welfare event at Rugby Farmers’ Mart cafe on 1 November 2021. Anne, Gill and Paula from Parish Nursing UK joined us to chat to the farmers informally and take blood pressure readings. They also conducted 7 private consultations in a separate room, which was an increase on the 2 consultations which took place at our first event.  A common theme running through the consultations was stress, long working hours and pressure of work.
 
Thirteen people enjoyed a free tension-busting massage from Maya, our massage therapist from Vital Massage Marton. And representatives from Farming Community Network were also available to give out their “Fit for Farming” booklets and talk about their support services.  
 
We would like to thank Sheldon Bosley Knight for sponsoring this event. We are pleased to confirm that we will be returning to Rugby Farmers’ Mart for several more health events in 2022, this time funded by Princes’ Countryside Fund. We will also be running the same event in other locations. 

 

South Warwickshire Sustainable Farming Group

receives update on ELMS

We held the first meeting of our South Warwickshire Sustainable Farming Group on 22 October 2021 in Tysoe. We started the meeting by asking the farmers present just what support they would like to see from this free group. Richard Wordsworth from NFU then gave us a talk about the Sustainable Farming Incentive and ELMS. If you farm in south Warwickshire and would be interested in hearing more about the group and how it could help you move forward to a new era of farming then please get in touch with Jane on info@ruralhub.org.uk

Learning about smart farming solutions

during a visit to Ellis Machinery in Gaydon

Looking at machinery solutions for smart farming was the order of the day on 19 October 2021 when the Rural Hub visited AMTEC Ellis Machinery in Gaydon.

Their 6-acre yard is packed with over 400 pieces of equipment prepared for the modern farmer and during our visit we heard all about the different types of direct drills that are in stock, viewed the cutting edge irrigation equipment just in from Europe and learned how the different types of equipment are transported to customers in the UK and abroad.  In addition to their core business of used agricultural machinery, AMTEC also hire machinery and have launched a new online auction platform where farmers can sell farm machinery. 

We would particularly like to extend our thanks to Jason White who accompanied us around the yard to give us the benefit of his knowledge.

 

Upper Avon and Leam Sustainable Farming Group

is launched in Weston under Wetherley

Our third sustainable farming group, for farmers in the Upper Avon and Leam catchment, was launched on 12 October 2021 at Weston Hall Farm, Weston under Wetherley by kind permission of Alistair MacGregor.

Eighteen farmers attended the farm walk to view some of the environmental work that Alistair has undertaken as part of Countryside Stewardship before returning to the yard for a discussion on the type of support they would like this new, farmer-led group to provide them with.  

If you farm north of the M40 and east of the A46 and are interested in joining the mailing list to hear about group events, please contact Jane on info@ruralhub.org.uk 

Shipston on Stour farm manager Jonathan Hince 

wins the Rural Hub Environmental Farming Award for 2021

Jonathan Hince of HJ and CF Beecham of Tidmington Farm, Shipston on Stour has been announced as the winner of the Warwickshire Rural Hub Environmental Farming Award for 2021.  The annual award is sponsored by the leading agtech company Syngenta and celebrates the achievements of Warwickshire farmers in integrating conservation of wildlife with their commercial farming activities. 

Jonathan accepted the 2021 award certificate from Warwickshire Rural Hub Director Karen Ellis.   He was also awarded a voucher for the Nestbox Company from the Warwickshire Rural Hub and a voucher for some seed mixes from Syngenta. 

Tidmington Farm has been farming with wildlife in mind for many decades.   The farm has bird seed plots to help with winter feeding of songbirds, areas of unimproved grassland (which are in steep decline across the UK), wildflower meadows, ponds and wetlands and hedges managed for wildlife.  The management regime includes resource protection of soil, water and air and a waste recycling programme.   The reduction of carbon emissions is being considered in its move towards net zero farming.  Historic features which have been retained on the farm include ridge and furrow, traditional farm buildings and a packhorse bridge across a watercourse on a drover’s route.

We plan to hold an event at Tidmington Farm in 2022 to showcase Jonathan’s achievements.

Haseley Estate steps in at the last minute

to save Coventry, City of Culture art installation

When the original growing site became infested by wireworm Warwickshire Rural Hub was asked to help find a field to grow 1 acre of spring Atle wheat for a Coventry, City of Culture art installation.   Time was of the essence as the wheat needed to be planted immediately.  We worked with George Bostock of Warwickshire NFU and very quickly located a beautiful walled garden on the Haseley Estate, managed by Tom Maynard. The heritage, long stemmed wheat, which is ideal for thatching, was harvested by hand scythe on 14 August. The straw will be used in the art installation and the grain will be donated to a cafe in Coventry for bread-making.

The art installation is named God’s Workshop; of Clay and Straw and is being created by the Pangaea Sculptors’  Centre.  Visit this page for full details of the project. 

The winner of the Rural Hub Environmental Farming Award 2019

hosts our first members’ farm tour of 2021

Our first members’ farm tour since February 2020 was held on the evening of 8 July 2021 at Home Farm, Hatton.  

Estate Manager, Thomas Maynard took us on “tractor safari” tour of parts of the estate to demonstrate why he had won the Rural Hub Environmental Farming Award for 2019.  The award recognises the integration of wildlife conservation with commercial farming operations.  As part of the tour we also viewed a 2 acre field of Atle wheat, which when harvested will be used in a Coventry City of Culture installation.  Lucy May Tomlins from the Pangea Sculpture Centre updated members on the project and why this particular variety of wheat had been selected.

Following the tour we returned to the farmyard where everyone enjoyed Napton Water Buffalo burgers and drinks, courtesy of Award sponsors, Syngenta.  It was so good to finally get back out on farm and meet up with members for an educational and enjoyable event. 

 

The South Warwickshire Sustainable Farming Group 

is launched at Upton Estate 

Upton Estate was the location for the launch of this new group which will help farmers in the south of the county prepare for post-BPS, submit applications to environmental schemes, manage conservation habitats and wildlife mixes and work towards net zero.

Twenty five farmers from the area enjoyed a tour of the estate when we heard all about the sustainable farming methods they have adopted due to their involvement in the ASSIST and the work they have undertaken as part of Countryside Stewardship.  Our thanks go to Dave Thornton at Upton Estate and David Kinnersley at Fisher German for hosting us.  

If you farm in the area and are interested in joining this free group please contact Jane on info@ruralhub.org.uk.  

A group for farmers in the Upper Avon and Leam catchment will be launched in early autumn.  Register your interest here.

 

Completing the biodiversity jigsaw

courtesy of business supporter Lodders

A trio of prestigious industry speakers took part in the latest Lodders webinar on 11 May 2021.  Entitled The Biodiversity Jigsaw the webinar introduced us to the new world of natural capital assets, ecosystem services and nature-based offsetting solutions that is shaping land-use practices, with opportunities and implications for both landowners and developers.  The first speaker was Dr Alistair Leake of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust who talked us through the known details of the new ELMS funding scheme.  He also highlighted some of the trials that have taken place at the Trust’s Allerton Project.  Karl McConville of Strutt and Parker then provided an insight to the green lending appetite and how in particular rural businesses may be able to help provide solutions.  Finally, Richard Wheat of Middlemarch Environmental spoke about the development of biodiversity offset schemes from concept to delivery, drawing on good practice principles to unlock the value of nature for landowners.    A question and answer session followed the presentation and rounded off this fascinating webinar. 

 

The importance of dung beetles 

is highlighted in webinar with Arden Farm Wildlife Project

Did you know that over 50% of our dung beetle species are threatened?  Our joint webinar with the Arden Farm Wildlife Network on 31 March 2021 saw members hear from Sally-Ann Spence who is passionate about dung beetles!  Sally-Ann co-founded the UK Dung Beetle Mapping Project (DUMP) and she also owns and runs a educational research centre ‘Berrycroft Hub’ on her family farm.  

During her fascinating presentation Sally-Ann told us how cows can produce up to 6% of their bodyweight in dung each day and dung beetles can reduce a dung patch by 70% during one week.  But there are also many other benefits to having dung beetles on your land from recycling essential nutrients into the soil to improve pasture to providing an important food source for bats and birds.  Sally-Ann was keen that horse owners in particular don’t “poo pick” too often, so please remember not to clean up your grazing too often. 

 

 

Farmers in the Avon and Upper Leam 

learn about funding streams in their catchment

Green Futures in the Avon and Upper Leam catchments was the title of the second webinar in 2021 sponsored by the Warwickshire Avon Catchment Partnership.  Speakers from the Environment Agency, Natural England and Seven Trent, together with independent Farm  Conservation Adviser, Zoe Bell, gave presentations on the different types of funding streams currently available to farmers in the catchment.  Zoe also highlighted the Countryside Stewardship webinar advice sessions which are available online during March, April and May and the free one to one sessions that can be requested.  Visit our News page for further information on how to book your place.    A full copy of the slides from the presentation can be downloaded on the link below.

Leam and Upper Avon Green Futures

 

2021 programme of webinars

kicks off with brown trout and natural flood management

Improving water habitats for brown trout and natural flood management were the two topics discussed during our first webinar of 2021.  Dr Tim Jacklin from the Wild Trout Trust firstly told us that as well as good water quality and the correct habitats, the quantity of water was also important to the health of brown trout.  

Our second speaker was Mike McCarthy from the Shipston Area Flood Action Group, a group of volunteers who have installed 350 flood management measures including leaky wooden dams, bunds, online and offline ponds, swales, silt traps and forested water retention areas in and around Shipston on Stour to try and prevent the flooding of over 200 homes.   

Following the presentation there were questions from the audience including one about the current hot topic of introduction of beavers!    This webinar was supported by the Environment Agency as part of the Warwickshire Avon Catchment Partnership work.

“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
2 Church Street, Marton, Rugby CV23 9RL

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Rural Hub

Co-ordinator

Jane Hampson
E: info@ruralhub.org.uk

Tel: 07780 159291

 

 

 

 

Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Karen Ellis (Chair)
Amy Brant
Rosemary Collier
Emlyn Evans
Ian Jelley
Henry Lucas
Marion Perrett Pearson
Alexandra Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental Steering Group Members

Zoe Bell (Chair)
Tony Beysens
Meehal Grint, Kings Seeds
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
David Ruddock, Middlemarch Environmental
Louis Phipps, Bragborough Estate
Zoe Burrows, Rookery Farm

 

 

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