Sheppy’s Brings Home Three Golds at the Industry Leading International Cider Awards

Current Master of Cider, David Sheppy, replicates grandfather’s 1930s success

Somerset’s oldest cidermaker, Sheppy’s Cider, are celebrating multiple gold medal success at the coveted International Cider Awards. Established in 1888 and evolving consistently over time to reflect an ever-changing cider industry, the International Cider Awards aim to reward and recognise the innovation, attention to detail and hard work that goes into cider production.

The judging took place over three days, covering multiple categories across sweet and dry styles. Sheppy’s beat off stiff competition from more than 182 ciders entered by 62 cider producers from 24 countries, including small and regional to multi-national manufacturers.

Sheppy’s took a clean sweep for:

200 Special Edition - Tannic Cider category. Celebrating 200 years and six generations of cider making, made from a blend of the very finest traditional cider apples. Also recently voted ‘Cider of the Year’ by The Stable Bar and Restaurants chain.

Classic Draught – Modern Cider category. A famous Classic Draught cider made with a carefully selected blend of Somerset’s finest traditional cider and dessert apples.

Low Alcohol Classic Cider – Low Alcohol category. A beautifully light and crisp low-alcohol cider with a refreshing apple taste. The cider delivers the same flavour profile as its traditional cider, but with less alcohol.

The accolades are of particular importance to Sheppy’s as they are the modern equivalent of the award’s sixth generation and current Master of Cider, David Sheppy’s grandfather won in the 1930s, which started Sheppy’s on it’s road to becoming one of the most distinguished cider makers in the country.

Master of Cider, David Sheppy comments: “We are beyond thrilled to have won three gold medals across three categories. The success has a particular resonance with me having followed in my grandfather Stanley’s footsteps. He crafted the early prototype of our Gold Medal cider, which won two gold awards at an earlier version of the same awards in the 1930s. My family has since been making premium cider for over 200 years and we are incredibly proud of our heritage and the skills we pass from generation to generation, which are at the heart of everything Sheppy’s does. It’s fantastic for Sheppy’s to have been recognised at this level again!”

Speaking of this year’s medal winners, Ruth Evans MBE, Director of Brewing Technology Services who oversees the awards, said: “It brings me great pleasure to announce the medal winners, and no small measure of pride to be involved in our fantastic industry. These awards are a bastion of excellence, and we are always sincerely impressed by the talent of the medal winners. With each round of awards, the standards are pushed ever higher. Competition is fierce, and receiving a medal is an achievement to be truly proud of. My congratulations to all!”

The International Cider Awards will culminate with the medal presentations at London’s Guildhall, where members of the international brewing and cider-making community will come together to discover and celebrate the 2019 trophy winners.

Cornish food and farming education project hits milestone

A project aimed at educating the next generation about the links between agriculture and where their food comes from has engaged thousands of Cornish primary school children since it began.

Organiser of the Royal Cornwall Show, the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association (RCAA), launched the Farm & Country Days On The Road project at the end of 2017 to further the reach of their educational work.

The project centres around a purpose-built trailer kitted out with interactive resources and activities which is taken to local schools to help their pupils aged from 4 - 11 learn about farming and food production.

A recent visit to Pencoys Primary School at Four Lanes near Redruth saw the 5000th pupil climb the trailer’s tailgate to participate. Over the past 16 months 61 schools across Cornwall have enjoyed a visit.

Education coordinator and former primary school teacher, Emma Parkyn, leads the RCAA’s educational activities and is enjoying enlightening food consumers and farmers of the future with this important knowledge.

Emma said:

“We try to make it fun and exciting so the children enjoy finding out more about what farming is all about and they often ask some very interesting questions.

“Getting properly stuck in is the order of the day and we have lots of hands on activities to bring everything we do to life, it also fits neatly into various aspects of the national curriculum.

“Our provision is constantly evolving and our latest addition, a life size dairy goat called Demelza that can be milked, has proven a big hit not only with the children but also the staff and parents when we turn up at a school and wheel her out of our trailer.”

The charity began working with schools by setting up and running the popular Farm & Country Days at its Wadebridge showground in 2013. So far more than 7000 seven to nine-year-old children from across the county have attended the annual event.

For more information about the project or the RCAA’s educational work please visit www.royalcornwall.co.uk/education or contact Emma Parkyn on 01208 817016 or email: emmaparkyn@royalcornwall.co.uk.

Photo credit: Steven Michell  Year 1 pupils from Pencoys Primary School join Emma Parkyn, RCAA education coordinator (left) and volunteer Kelly Parsons (right) to celebrate the 5000th Cornish primary school pupil to enjoy the Farm & Country Days On The Road project.

Photo credit: Steven Michell

Year 1 pupils from Pencoys Primary School join Emma Parkyn, RCAA education coordinator (left) and volunteer Kelly Parsons (right) to celebrate the 5000th Cornish primary school pupil to enjoy the Farm & Country Days On The Road project.

CLA responds to meaningful vote result as potential tariff regime is published

CLA (Country Land and Business Association) Deputy President Mark Bridgeman said:

“With time now of the essence, it is vital that an agreement is found that can command the support of the House of Commons, so progress can be made on breaking the current political deadlock. This is likely to require an extension of Article 50.”

“While the result of yesterday’s vote should come as no surprise, it leaves rural businesses still facing significant uncertainty about what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be. We believe the best course to avoid huge disruption for farming and negative consequences for the rural economy, is for MPs to unite today in numbers to reject a “no deal” Brexit.”

Commenting on the release of the UK’s import tariff regime in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, Mr Bridgeman said:

“We welcome the limited protections announced today for some areas of the farming industry. However, we should be under no illusion about the consequences of these tariffs coming into force. Under this potential trading regime many of our products will become uncompetitive in Europe, while quotas for global tariff-free imports will create further uncertainty.

“It is vital that the Government makes clear that there will be early action to help those producers directly affected manage the impact. Market interventions and encouraging consumers to “buy British”, will also help mitigate economic and social hardship in the event of a “no deal” Brexit and significant market disruptions.”

Hop on down to the RHS Garden Rosemoor this Easter

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor in Devon has teamed up with publisher Macmillan Children’s Books for an exciting programme of family fun during the Easter Holidays (6 – 22 April), based on The Rhyming Rabbit, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks.

The Rhyming Rabbit is a clever adventure from the picture book partnership of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, creators of What the Ladybird Heard and Sugarlump and the Unicorn. With brilliant rhyming verse, bright and distinctive illustrations, this story is a delight to read aloud.

Families can enjoy The Rhyming Rabbit Hop About Trail which will take them around the garden, meeting the Rhyming Rabbit’s animal friends along the way. Youngsters can also take part in craft activities such as the chance to make their very own rabbit headband. Other workshops will help families explore how animals live in the wild and in their gardens, how plants help to sustain them and what they can do to support wildlife of all kinds.

 

Amanda Cole, Head of Marketing at the RHS, says: “The Rhyming Rabbit is a delightful tale of exploring the world around us and making new friends in unlikely places, and we are thrilled to be bringing the story to life in our gardens this Easter. Just like the character in the book, our visitors will discover all kinds of creatures and plants as they journey around the gardens.”

Alyx Price, Communications Director at Macmillan Children’s Books, adds: “We are delighted to be partnering with the RHS again in 2019. Together we can introduce The Rhyming Rabbit and his friends to a wide audience this Easter and the activities promise to be great fun for all ages.”  

Other activities taking place this Easter include: The Golden Carrot hunt when families can solve the clues leading to the location of the Golden Carrot on a map for a chance to win books and RHS prizes.


At the start of the school holidays on 6 and 7 April, Rosemoor is hosting a brand new event – Wool & Yarn Fest. This will include a wealth of traders and displays of products from talented local craftspeople as well as a number of demonstrations and workshops using these versatile materials. In addition there will be young alpacas and spring lambs for all the family to meet.

On Tuesday 9 and 16 April, The Really Wild Learning Show with Kim Insull returns to Rosemoor with his collection of minibeasts and creatures to get up close with, some of which are laying eggs! This is a ticketed event (plus normal garden admission) and there is limited capacity of 30 children per show priced at £2.50 per child (aged 3yrs and over) and tickets need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

 

For more information and to book tickets, please visit the website rhs.org.uk/rosemoor or phone 01805 626810.

Enter Hestercombe’s Poetry Competition

With the onset of spring, and as a tribute to our newest restoration project here at Hestercombe, we’re calling for young writers to enter our poetry competition on the theme of ‘spring’.

With the unveiling of Sibyl’s Temple, a recreation of a magnificent 18th century building in Hestercombe’s Georgian Landscape garden, winners of the competition will get the chance to read their poem at the official ceremony on Wednesday, 17th April.

They will also be invited to take part in a writing masterclass with one of the competition’s judges, international bestselling author Vicky Holmes (creator of Warrior Cats, Rainbow Magic, Animal Ark, Heartland and Chestnut Hill), and there will be prizes of £25 in book tokens to spend on their favourite reads.

Alongside Vicky, there will be a number of special guest judges, including Hestercombe’s Chief Executive Philip White MBE.

The age categories for the competition are split into three: under-12s12-15 and 16-21

The competition will close at 5pm on 1st April 2019.

Visit the website to enter https://www.hestercombe.com/poetry-competition/

Entries open for Royal Bath and West Show

t’s only 100 days to go until the Royal Bath & West Show, and livestock entries are now open, with new classes, top judges and plenty of evening entertainment on offer.

This year sees the Dexter Society hosting its National Show at the event for the first time, which is sure to attract a large entry. “The smallest cattle breed in Europe, Dexters are descended from the mountain cattle of Ireland,” says head of shows Alan Lyons. “They are very popular with smallholders and provide great beef, and we look forward to welcoming so many of them to the ring.”

Reflecting the importance of commercial success, the Show has introduced two new cross-bred cattle classes and increased the number of commercial cattle classes. “Husband and wife team Jason and Sarah Wareham from Sussex will be judging the commercial and young handler categories, with Jason returning to the Show having exhibited here as a boy,” says Mr Lyons. Another regular exhibitor, Richard Dorrell from Worcestershire, will be judging the supreme beef championship, while Peter Waring from East Yorkshire will be picking out the supreme dairy champion.

In the sheep section, Portland, Primitive and Shetland sheep now have their own class, and young sheep handlers have an impressive five classes to choose from. “Judging the interbreed pairs championship is Gwynne Davies from Ceredigion – a well-known sheep farmer and the sheep commentator from the Royal Welsh Show,” explains Mr Lyons.

Sheep shearing is always a popular draw, with some of the UK’s fastest shearers competing for the top prize. This year the event will host the South West area qualifier for the National Young Farmers Clubs, leading to the final at the Great Yorkshire Show in July.

Pig exhibitors won’t be left out either, with a new class for veteran sows to complement the veteran exhibitor prize.

Within the Cattle Showmanship competition there is a new discipline for senior competitors in that having judged a class and prepared and shown their animal, they have to set it up and take a ‘Show Standard’ image of it – an important part of displaying livestock to look their best.

“Showing livestock is hard work - with families having to take time off from the farm to attend – but it is certainly worthwhile; particularly at the Bath & West Show, as regular exhibitors will attest,” says Mr Lyons. “As a keen sheep exhibitor, I know the difficulties of travelling round attending different competitions. But our competitors love the way we make them feel so welcome, with a hugely enjoyable Showmans’ Supper on the eve of the Show and live music going on into the night. Both exhibitors and visitors are welcome to camp overnight and really make the most of the occasion: The camaraderie and atmosphere really is second to none.”

The Royal Bath & West Show will be held on 29 May – 1 June. Competition schedules and tickets are available from the website: www.bathandwest.com or by calling 0844 776 6777. Children - for the first time - can go free during the May half term, with a £5 discount on early adult bookings.

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Royal Bath & West Society - International Women's Day

JOIN US FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

Join the Royal Bath & West Society for networking and nibbles in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Friday 8th March 2019 from 09:30 – 12:00.

The Rural Enterprise Centre, Bath & West Showground, BA4 6QN

This event is free to attend and will be chaired by Annie Maw, HM Lord- Lieutenant of Somerset and the Society’s President-elect and will feature inspiring presentations from the following women in business:

Debbie Howarth - Commercial Enterprise Manager at The Royal Bath & West Society - "How well do you know the Bath & West Showground?"

Catherine Look - Managing Director at Oaktree Parks Ltd & Trustee of The Royal Bath & West Society - "Building on Foundations"

Lisa Cadd - Founder of Fuss Free Foodie - "Inspiring Change - the challenges of cooking & eating well as part of working/family life"

Jen Hunter - Events Manager Fernhill Farm and founder of Fernhill Fibre - "Products with Provenance"

The presenters will share their business stories, the challenges they face and give you ‘top tips’ to take away. This is a great opportunity for business women to connect, share stories and celebrate achievements.

Places are limited and are on a first come first serve basis.

Environmental body must be independent, warns ALA

The proposed new body for overseeing environmental legislation must be truly independent if farmers and land managers are to have confidence in it, the Agricultural Law Association has warned.

In its response to the draft Environment (Governance & Principles) Bill, the ALA is clear that the new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) should report directly to Parliament, not just to Government departments.

“As an independent body, the OEP will be giving advice on proposed changes to environmental law, but under the current wording of the draft Bill the Minister won’t be required to present this advice to Parliament, which has the real possibility of limiting the scrutiny of any future changes,” said Mike Holland, consultant and adviser at the ALA.

“Environmental law has a direct effect on land use and management. For the agricultural industry to have confidence in the OEP it absolutely must be transparent, open and independent, and for that to be the case it must report directly to Parliament.”

In addition, the ALA recommends that the OEP has an internal panel with legally qualified members to deal with any authority which fails to comply with environmental law or issues arising from misinterpretation of Government policy. “This panel should have the power to set up a judicial inquiry, to ensure policy implementation is robust,” explained Mr Holland.

Another area of concern is how the Environment Bill will dovetail with the Agriculture Bill. “With all the pieces of legislation coming from Brexit there is a danger that they won’t tie up together. It is vitally important that the contents of the proposed Environment Bill reflect the direction of Government policy contained in DEFRA’s Health and Harmony consultation in 2018.”

This is particularly important with regard to new regulatory baselines that will apply to the environment; the starting point for the Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan. “While baseline data will be used to measure the success of environmental schemes, it’s not clear how the data will be collected or used, or how those baselines will be established,” said Mr Holland. “It is fundamental to the agriculture sector that the Government is clear on the evaluation methods that will be used and supported at farm level.

“In the longer term, it is also vital that we have clear and transparent environmental law governance outside of the EU, to ensure the rural sector is not over-burdened with regulation that hinders its ability to respond to the challenges ahead.”

For more information visit www.ala.org.uk.

Rosemoor announce three-year sponsorship deal for Garden Flower Show

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor, in North Devon, has signed a local three-year sponsorship deal with Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management (AFWM). This follows on from the very successful partnership supporting the 2018 Rosemoor Garden Flower Show.

The deal means that AFWM will be the Headline Sponsor for the next three years at the annual Garden Flower Show in August – the only official RHS Flower Show in the South West. It will bring in valuable funds to increase the content of the show and improve the visitor experience even more than in previous years. 

The deal also includes support for four other major gardening events in 2019 at Rosemoor, starting with The Spring Flower Festival, 16 & 17 March, then the RHS National Rhododendron Show, 27 & 28 April, followed by Rose Weekend, 21 - 23 June, and finally the Apple Festival in October.

Brokering the partnership, Steve Bowyer, Head of Site at RHS Garden Rosemoor, said “I am truly delighted to have the support of AFWM and the three-year deal means that we can invest in the show to increase its size; bring in more exhibits, displays and demonstrations, and generally ensure it continues to be a very enjoyable event for all our visitors.”

John Waldie, Managing Director of AFWM said: “As a keen gardener I am delighted to be working with the RHS.  We have sponsored the Cornwall Garden Society Spring Flower Show for 6 years and, as we are very quickly growing our presence in Devon, working with the RHS is a natural progression for us.  Sponsoring the Rosemoor Flower Show in 2018 was a tremendous success and we are looking forward to coming back for the next three years as well as sponsoring additional events at Rosemoor for 2019.  We have been amazed by the professionalism of the RHS staff at Rosemoor whose attention to detail and excellence is as great as the garden itself.’

The 2019 Rosemoor Garden Flower Show takes place 16 – 18 August and is included in normal garden admission which is free for RHS members.

Please visit www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor/whatson or call 01805 626810 for more details.

Steve Bowyer (left) for RHS Garden Rosemoor with Atkins Ferrie’s John Waldie

Steve Bowyer (left) for RHS Garden Rosemoor with Atkins Ferrie’s John Waldie

Cheddar throughput to double in new energy efficient Dairy

Bruton, Somerset, 28th January 2018 – Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheese producers and exporters, have been granted planning permission to re-build their Bruton based Dairy, doubling the capacity. The redevelopment is part of the companies 5-year plan for growth which is underpinned by increasing volume and the strategic targeting of specific regions world-wide.

The company have concluded their market prioritization research; the results of which have been used to develop the Wyke Farms 5-year plan for growth, which includes increasing brand presence in export markets in preparation for post Brexit trade and launching new export targeted products throughout 2019.

The companies’ audited accounts for y/e March 2018 show that turnover has risen to a record breaking high of £85 million; a significant 26% increase from the previous year with significant investment into world markets and a growth plan aimed to push the business to a £100million turnover this financial year. The Somerset based company have seen strong and consistent sales growth in the UK and overseas despite the challenging retail landscape.

The new Dairy expansion project, titled ‘Ivy’s Dairy’ after Wyke Farms’ matriarch Ivy Clothier will create a 16,589m² state of the art production facility. The dairy will be built to Ivy Clothier’s founding principles of producing the best in class quality combined with an industry leading respect for the environment. The development will be both energy and water efficient and sympathetic to the surrounding environment, with soft landscaping and a natural grass roof. The investment will build a sustainable long-term future and build sufficient infrastructure for servicing increased sales of award winning cheddar in both the UK and export markets.

Richard Clothier, third generation family member and Managing Director, comments: “Our strategy of selling into a growing export market has been very successful; it generates revenue that allows us to mitigate against the risks that a volatile dairy sector and a disrupted UK retail sector may bring. The new Dairy is crucial to facilitate the growth and meet global demand”

Wyke Farms has been producing its award-winning cheddar to their secret family recipe for over 150 years and has grown to become one of the largest family-owned cheese makers in Britain selling over 15,000 tonnes annually to over 160 countries around the world.

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Easter Holiday Fun for Families at The Bishop’s Palace 6th-22nd April 2019

If you’re looking to keep little ones busy this Easter Holiday, why not head over to The Bishop’s Palace & Gardens in Wells to join in with a whole range of family-friendly activities with a variety of Easter themes.

The holiday fun kicks off on Saturday 6th April when the new Easter Egg Trail will be in place. Challenge the kids to follow the clues around the Palace & Gardens and find coloured eggs hidden in unexpected places – and if they find them all, they can claim a chocolate prize from the Visitor Centre on the way out!

On Tuesday 9th and 16th April (10:30am-3pm), our Crafty Cats sessions will take place in the Undercroft of the Palace. On 9th the theme will be ‘Bugs and Buds’ and the children will have the chance to create Bug Hand Puppets, Coffee Filter Butterflies and Tree Blossom Picture, and on 16th the Easter-themed activities will include making Bunny Masks, weaving Easter baskets and creating Easter Egg Mosaics!

On Thursday 11th and 18th April (11am-3pm), the Palace Garden team will be holding “Nature Ninjas” activity sessions in the Community Garden, aimed at getting little ones engaged with nature and gardening. The team will have lots of horticulturally-based fun activities for all ages.

For something a little different, join Raptorcare on Saturday 13th April for the Palace’s Medieval Falconry Day.

Taking place from 10am-4pm, Tony, the master falconer, will be hosting flying displays, suitable for all ages, on the South Lawn. The displays will illustrate how these birds would have been used in Medieval times and why. Marvel at their skill and training as they show off their well-honed moves in front of the audience and in between displays, visitors will also have the chance to handle some of the birds.

The 14 acres of Gardens will be open daily throughout the Easter Holidays and the Dragon’s Lair Play Area is the perfect place to exercise little legs – climb the Dragon’s Wings, explore the Tree Pods, crawl through the Dragon’s belly or pump the water to spill the bucket and send the Dragon to sleep – the choice is yours!

There’s also a choice of The Hungry Dragon Snack Bar (adjacent to The Dragon’s Lair), serving drinks and snacks, or The Bishop’s Table Café, which is open daily, serving child-friendly menus alongside lunches, cakes and hot drinks to refresh the grown ups too!

All activities are included in standard admission.

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2019 PRINCE OF WALES AWARD NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS IN DEVON

The Devon County Agricultural Association (DCAA) has announced the launch of The Prince of Wales Award 2019.

The Award, which the DCAA has run for 34 years, is open to Devon-based community projects. Entries are encouraged from all areas of the community, from schools through to small farm diversification projects. The emphasis, reflecting HRH the Prince of Wales’ personal beliefs, is on sustainability and young people.

Entries are judged by a panel from the DCAA and the winner is selected based on their outstanding contribution.

Winners receive a cheque for £1000 and must invest their prize in further community projects.

Last year’s winner was Wynstream Primary School for the completion of a sensory garden where groups of children are encouraged to learn growing skills, nurture plants and encourage pollinators. Commenting on the effect the award has had Angela Redmond, the Outdoor Learning Teacher said: ‘It has meant so much to our children and their families to have had their hard work rewarded in this way. They are even more inspired and motivated to learn about the natural world and respect and preserve the environment for themselves and future generations. The prize money has enabled us to fast track our plans to build our pollination project, which is now an environmental haven and beautiful, outdoor learning space.’

The DCAA is proud to host the awards and present the first prize at their flagship event, the Devon County Show, in May. Richard Maunder, Chief Executive said: ‘As an organisation, we are committed to supporting all aspects of life in our county. Community projects that educate and involve young people are essential for the sustainability and future of Devon. We very much hope the 2019 Awards will encourage even more people to come forward with inspirational ideas with a strong community benefit.’

Entries are now available to download from the website at www.devoncountyshow.co.uik. Entry deadline is March 29th 2019. The winner will be presented with their prize at Devon County Show 2019 on Friday 17th May.

Wynstream School celebrate winning the Prince of Wales Award 2018 at Devon County Show

Wynstream School celebrate winning the Prince of Wales Award 2018 at Devon County Show

Prodigal Swan Returns to The Bishop’s Palace

Exciting news on The Bishop’s Palace Moat in Wells this morning as a lone swan has been spotted swimming happily around.

Palace staff spotted the animal early this morning and believe it to by Wynn, the widowed Palace Swan who was last seen on 18th October 2018 when she took leave of the moat with her remining four cygnets.

It is thought that she has been living on the Somerset Levels with her juveniles, but that as they will now have started living independent adult lives, she has returned to her former home.

Wynn was the recipient of much media attention earlier this year when she was left widowed by the death of her life-partner Brynn whilst she was nesting. She battled on bravely and hatched 5 beautiful cygnets in May which she successfully reared to adulthood.

Wynn seemed happy to be back on the moat, happily feeding from Visitor Operations Team member Jane Lawrence’s hand this morning! Palace Staff are hopeful that Wynn will choose to return to her picturesque home full time but are also holding out hope that she might entice a new partner to share her home and breed some more cygnets.

Wynn and former life partner Bryn had lived at the Palace since 2013 when they travelled from Wales to take up residence in Wells. Wynn had successfully reared 45 cygnets since living at the Palace, and the swans and their cygnets have been an extremely well-loved feature of the Palace Moat, with tourists waiting to see the Gatehouse bell rung when the swans are hungry.

The tradition began in the 1850’s, when Bishop Eden’s daughter Maria, taught a pair of swans to ring a bell on the Gatehouse when they wanted to be fed.

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New Wells Partnership Offers More for Less

Wells Heritage Pass – launch date 1st December

 

If you’re a fan of the stunning heritage in medieval Wells, from now on you can get more for less with the newly launched Wells Heritage Pass.

Wells’ newest collaboration sees three of the major players in the city’s tourism economy working together for the very first time.

Wells Cathedral, The Bishop’s Palace and Wells & Mendip Museum have joined up to offer residents and visitors the chance to enjoy unlimited access to these three historically significant sites all year round with one annual pass.

The Bishop’s Palace and Wells Cathedral already have annual pass schemes in place, allowing holders to visit as many times as they wish all year round, but the new Wells Heritage Pass offers a significant discount on these and adds in the wonderful Wells & Mendip Museum,  which has an annual programme of exhibitions, workshops and talks to keep visitors wanting to come back throughout the year.

The Wells Heritage Pass starts at £40 for an individual, and also offers Joint and Family options. If you’re struggling to find a gift for someone who has everything this Christmas, the gift of 12 months of Wells Heritage could be your perfect present!

All funds raised from the Wells Heritage Pass will be invested in the conservation of these significant heritage landmarks and will ensure that the doors of these sites are kept open to the public now and for future generations.

To find out more and to purchase, visit The Bishop’s Palace Shop, or the Wells Cathedral Donations Desk and Shop.

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Buy assured British-grown Christmas trees this festive season, CLA urges

The CLA and Grown in Britain are encouraging the public to buy UK-grown Christmas trees this festive season, in a bid to support rural businesses and boost the environment by cutting ‘tree miles’.

Christmas trees are bought in a relatively short period, usually starting from the first weekend of December. But of course, the trees require care throughout the year, which has been particularly challenging with the weather conditions experienced in 2018. This is so that the tree keeps the correct shape, with no distortions and are in perfect health for harvesting.

CLA South West represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

CLA South West Regional Director John Mortimer said: “Buying a locally grown tree means that it may only have been cut a short time before arriving at the retailer, reducing the likelihood of needle drop. Treating the tree with respect by placing it in a water bearing stand and keeping it topped up with water is also important.

“Buying local, whether it is Christmas trees or other seasonal festive produce, helps to contribute to our vibrant rural economy. There is certainly a wide variety of suppliers of local products in our region, from fruit and vegetable growers to award-winning gin distilleries.

“Many people will already be regular visitors to farm shops and farmers markets across the region and be familiar with the products available to them for the festive season. These businesses provide jobs, goods and services for local communities, attract tourism and provide a real boost to our rural economy.

“Small Business Saturday, a campaign which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to shop local, takes place on the first Saturday in December. It provides an important impetus for consumers to support small businesses in their communities, not just in the run up to Christmas, but throughout the year.”

Grown in Britain Chief Executive Dougal Driver said: “The UK has a flourishing Christmas tree growing sector and buying a home grown tree will support rural businesses in Britain and help reduce ‘tree miles’. Last year, £3 million worth of real Christmas trees were imported into the UK, according to Government statistics.

“The Grown in Britain Christmas tree licensing scheme operates throughout the supply chain from growers to retailers and provides the customer with an assurance that the trees are definitely from the UK; grown in a responsible manner with regard to the environment and meet a strict forest floor to shop floor freshness test.”

CLA MEDIA CONTACTS:

For further information: Kim John, CLA Communications Manager South West, 01249 700200 or kim.john@cla.org.uk

CLA Rural Business Conference: Government must commit to a new Enterprising Countryside Charter for strong post-Brexit countryside

As 500 farmers and rural businesses gather in Westminster today to discuss the post-Brexit countryside with Defra Secretary Michael Gove, the CLA is calling for Government to commit to a new Enterprising Countryside Charter.

The CLA (Country Land and Business Association) represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales. Today’s CLA conference will examine how rural businesses and countryside communities are embracing change and how new policies are required to give them the ability to adapt and the confidence to flourish.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “I am delighted to be speaking alongside Tim Breitmeyer at this year’s CLA conference, which always takes a fresh look at the challenges and opportunities for rural businesses that are so vital to the economy and local communities.

“As we leave the EU there is tremendous scope for change and I’m confident that rural businesses will seize this opportunity. Within government we will also continue to deliver on the things that matter to rural communities, including £200 million funding for full-fibre broadband, increasing the availability of affordable housing and creating more than 6,000 new jobs in rural communities.”

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “With Brexit fast approaching and the new Agriculture Bill going through Parliament, those of us living and working in the countryside should be ready for rapid and significant change. We have a thriving entrepreneurial and creative rural business sector which is up for the challenge and ready to make the most of the opportunities Brexit presents.

“Rural businesses currently invest around £13bn each year in, for example, new technologies, generating renewable energy, start-ups such as restaurants on farm, and vineyards. This business investment is crucial for local communities, creating new rural jobs, food production and the environment, and Government must not overlook it as plans are drawn up for post-Brexit Britain. By committing to the Enterprising Countryside Charter, Government can create a more positive environment for rural businesses giving them the confidence to make the new investments needed for a strong rural economy as we adapt to life outside the EU and well beyond.”

The CLA’s “Enterprising Countryside Charter” comprises five policies essential to rural business growth post-Brexit (see attached for further details):

1. Rural Roaming between networks for better 4G mobile coverage in the countryside

2. New Rural Enterprise Frameworks for better business growth support locally

3. Use of Rural Enterprise Plans to improve consistency in the planning system

4. Bringing the current outdated criteria for a ‘sustainable village’ into the 21st Century

5. Extending the remit of the Minister with responsibility for rural business across both Defra and BEIS.

New CLA survey data underlines the need for Government to commit to these policies. Of 1,600 landowners, farmers and rural businesses surveyed, the majority are planning to invest in business growth in the next five years, such as setting up a rural visitor attraction or converting a redundant farm building for new use. However, many feel limited by major barriers such as lack of broadband / mobile coverage, the complexities of local planning policy, and uncertainty about Brexit outcomes. The new data also highlights a lack of Brexit contingency planning in the rural sector.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Only 21% of rural businesses, including farms, have started making Brexit contingency plans despite the far-reaching impacts anticipated for the countryside reflecting the uncertainty many are feeling. However, transformation in farming, land management and rural business is also being driven by longer-term influences such as social change, the digital revolution, and the need to tackle climate change. Today is a crucial forum to come together with Michael Gove and discuss how our businesses and communities will adapt to ensure a strong future for the countryside and for all its vital contributions to our nation.”

The extent of change for the countryside in the longer term is also highlighted by the new survey data – 30% of rural landowners are currently considering using less of their existing landholding for agriculture in the next 20 years. Of those, alternative uses could include:

o 42% are considering using more land for environmental enhancements

o 32% are considering using more land for housing

o 30% are considering using more land for recreation / visitor attractions

Beware mis-selling in the solar and storage markets

Small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays and battery storage are looking increasingly attractive as capital costs decline and energy prices rise, but farms and estates should beware mis-selling in the market.

According to the independent power and energy consultancy Roadnight Taylor, the cost of solar technology has fallen by over 30% this year and will drop further following the EU’s abolition of its minimum price for Chinese imports. Alongside more than an 80% rise in wholesale energy costs since 2016, this has made investment increasingly viable for businesses.

“Depending on your on-site demand, generating your own power could pay back in as little as seven years, even without Government support,” says chief executive Hugh Taylor.

Installing batteries to absorb and deliver energy can also pay back quickly. “As well as benefiting from considerable energy cost savings, rural businesses can generate income by storing electricity to sell back into the grid during price spikes, and also by helping the National Grid balance supply and demand in real time. However, not all situations will be viable – yet – so it’s important to understand the intricacies of a specific project before committing to it.”

Mr Taylor suggests profiling the energy demands on-site – both on a half-hourly basis and throughout the year – to ascertain the feasibility and the correct size of any installation. “Some solar and battery installers are recommending that landowners install much larger schemes than would be appropriate, falsely justifying investment in larger schemes and inflating income projections for unviable sites.

“There are many sites which are not yet financially viable, but as technology prices drop and energy prices rise, many are likely to become so in the next few years, so it’s important to know where your site stands.”

To help farms and estates who are considering such projects, Roadnight Taylor has developed a ‘TrafficLight’ study, which profiles the energy demand, considers generation volumes and tariff structures, and ascertains the viability of a project based on leading and independent energy market projections. A green result means it’s worth investing now, amber means it is likely to be viable within three years, and red means it’s unlikely to be viable within that time.

“If you have an amber project we will monitor it for you over the succeeding three years and notify you when the site turns green,” explains Mr Taylor. “As our pool of green and amber sites grows, it is giving our clients more tendering power so they can also achieve higher revenues for lower investment.”

  • The TrafficLight study costs from £350 + VAT. For more information contact Roadnight Taylor on 01993 830571 or visit www.roadnighttaylor.co.uk

Hugh Taylor CEO Roadnight Taylor small.jpg

YEOVIL SAMARITANS TO RE-LOCATE TO YEOVIL TOWN CENTRE

Samaritans of Yeovil, Sherborne and District are delighted to announce they will shortly be moving into a new home.

Morley House, located on West Hendford, will become the new branch centre next year, once it has undergone a refurbishment programme.

Sarah Coote, Branch Director is delighted at the news. ‘It’s been a whirlwind year for our branch. We were extremely fortunate to be left an incredible legacy from a local resident which is going to help us to achieve our vision for this Branch of Samaritans – to increase our volunteer numbers so we can contribute to the national 24/7 service even more effectively and to offer more space for face to face callers.

We now have 116 listening and support volunteers at the Yeovil Branch. Our current base at 25 The Park is lovely but becoming too small for our needs. The location is also difficult for some people to find. We want to be right in the heart of the town centre, firmly embedded in the community, so we can be right there for when people need us, and Morley House delivers on all fronts.’

Morley House occupies just over 5,000 square feet over 3 floors. Formerly owned by South Somerset Council, the building came up for sale in late September and final bids were submitted in October.

Sarah said ‘The South West has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK’. ‘Whilst pressures on mental health services increase, there is an urgent need for safe, low cost venues to be made available to local organisations. We will be in a position to offer such a space at Morley House.’

‘We would like to thank everyone who was so supportive of our Branch in the bid process. It’s lovely to know so many people value our contribution to Yeovil and the surrounding environs. Of course, our biggest thanks go to Mr John Grant whose generous legacy has made this purchase possible.’

Could you volunteer with Samaritans? If you are over 18, why not join us at our information evenings on the first Wednesday of every month which will be held at our current premises at 25 The Park until we move to our new centre. You will be fully trained and become part of a supportive, friendly and worthwhile organization working in a fantastic new building. To find out more, call our information line on 01935 414015, email recruitment@yeovilsamaritans.org.uk or visit our website at https://www.samaritans.org/branches/samaritans-yeovil-sherborne-and-district

New Royal Welsh Winter Fair Commercial Hide Competition

New, for this year’s Winter Fair, the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society has joined forces with an up-and coming Welsh entrepreneur, Hayley Hanson, to launch a new and exciting competition for the most commercial viable cattle hide at the fair.

With the emphasis on quality Welsh produce, Hayley established her own business, Hayley Hanson, back in 2016. By utilising the hides of her own commercial beef animals sent to slaughter, Hayley makes luxury leather goods from hides produced to the highest welfare standards. The hides are then tanned and processed within the UK - a fully traceable and sustainable process from farm to arm!

Hayley and her husband Mike, who rear cattle on their family farm, nestled between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, will be judging the new competition on Sunday night (25 November).

Hayley designs all her luxury leather products, which are produced from high quality, sustainable Welsh leather.

Hayley designs all her luxury leather products, which are produced from high quality, sustainable Welsh leather.

Inspecting all eligible animals whilst they are settled in their stalls, ready for a busy few days of Winter Fair competitions ahead, Hayley and Mike will be looking for the animal which potentially has the best hide for turning into luxury commercial leather products, such as handbags, wallets, upholstery, etc. The intention will be that Hayley will use the winning hide for some of her future products, perhaps producing a range of Royal Welsh leather goods.

Eligible cattle will have a Welsh passport and will be sold for slaughter at the sale on the Tuesday of the event.

“We are always looking at ways of keeping our events and the competitions up-to-date and this new hide competition is perfect” says Will Hanks, Winter Fair Director.

“This is the first competition of its kind in the UK and we are delighted that not only does it showcase the versatility and quality of our excellent Welsh livestock, it also highlights the importance of diversification and sustainability within our sector in these uncertain times.

“The Winter Fair really is the place to see the Welsh livestock farming in its entirety. Whether it’s the animals in the show rings, the carcasses on display, the finished products in the food hall and our new taste test competitions or now… high quality Welsh leather!”

For more information on Hayley and her diversification business, Hayley Hanson, please visit www.hayleyhanson.co.uk

Seaweed science to boost crop yields

Seaweed technology could be the answer to boosting crop yields at a time of declining chemical efficacy, with scientific breakthroughs revealing the multiple benefits of algae.

The Olmix Group, which has invested tens of millions of euros into algae research and innovation since 2012, recently hosted a visit to its Brittany-based laboratories and manufacturing site. Following the acquisition of UK-based Micromix – a firm specialising in foliar nutrition and biostimulants – it invited four agricultural journalists from the UK to learn more about the science behind the technology.

“A lot of seaweed is being simply processed and sold as a plant booster, but Olmix has a scientific understanding of what the molecules are actually doing,” says Chris Gamble, sales manager at Micromix. “Now we know the plant genomes we can see exactly what the different active ingredients are doing.”

Olmix harvests seaweed from the Breton coast once it has reached the end of its lifecycle – so it is a sustainable product. Given the high tidal reach of the area the seaweed is particularly strong, which is reflected in its biochemical make-up and stress tolerance.

When broken down into its components: Carbohydrates, proteins, sulphated polysaccharides and nutrients, the seaweed can then be used to boost crop and soil health, explains Didier Blin, plant care manager at Olmix. “Each has a different action on the plant, from growth stimulation to boosting the plant’s natural defence mechanisms against stress.”

Combined with micronutrients, inorganic acids, or clay, the products can be applied at different growth stages for maximum effect, says Maria Matard-Mann, research projects manager. “We are using seaweed as a complement to crop and soil health, not the only part of nutrition. That’s what makes the difference – having both a nutritional and biological activity.”

There are more than 9,800 species of seaweed, with a greater genetic diversity than fungi and animals combined. Many elements – such as sulphated polysaccharides – are not present in land plants, which is what makes them so useful, she adds.

“As crops don’t recognise marine sulphated polysaccharides they respond with immune aggression, which improves their resistance to stress or disease.” Algal hormones stimulate root growth and nutrient absorption, while biological activators boost humification in the soil.

“Farmers have to produce more and better with less, to feed the planet in a sustainable way,” says international director Jean-Marie Bocher. “We believe algae can be the answer.”

John Swire, editor of the Agronomist & Arable Farmer, reckons it’s essential that alternative approaches are explored given the lack of new chemical controls. “Reducing inputs has got to be the right thing,” he says. “We’re looking at the end of the chemical revolution in agriculture. The technology is fascinating and I really do believe there is a place for such innovative approaches to the growing of crops in the future.”

Lucy de la Pasture, technical editor at CPM, agrees. “Seaweed extracts have been around for a long time but their action is not well understood. The investment and R&D Olmix is pouring into harnessing the properties of marine algae is a reassuring injection of science into a field that has been a dark art.

“I firmly believe that understanding the complex interactions between a crop and its environment, together with supporting the plant’s own defence mechanisms, will provide the backbone for crop production in the future.”

©OLMIX Récolteuse algues - Olmix Group - DJI_0046 (Small).jpeg