Wyke Farms announce new Cheesy Spud Kitchen and the return of Tom’s Toasties on tour

Bruton, Somerset, 18th May 2018 – Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheese producers and producers of renewable energy, today announce their experiential offering for summer with their brand new Tom’s ‘Spud Kitchen’ which is set to tantalise taste buds at some of the South West’s biggest events.

Touring with Tom’s Toastie Kitchen - now in its third year and back by popular demand - Wyke’s new Spud Kitchen will serve mouth-watering jacket potatoes with a selection of fillings. Softly baked to perfection, with a bronzed outer jacket and topped with Wyke’s Salted Farmhouse Butter and their award-winning Extra Mature Cheddar, Tom’s Spuds are the ideal fill for a field foodie, festival goer and more!

Tom’s Spud’s Menu
All served with Wyke Farms Extra Mature Cheddar, choose from Simply Salted Butter, Smokey BBQ Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Tuna, Chicken Curry, Chilli, Coleslaw, Baked Beans, Tuna, Sweetcorn and Mayonnaise, Ham, Pineapple, Red Onion, Pancetta and Caramelised Onions.
All spuds are approximately £5.00

Named after Grandfather Tom Clothier, Tom’s Toastie Trailer sells toasties made using Wyke’s award-winning farmhouse Cheddar, crafted from the family’s 155-year-old recipe. The cheese is left undisturbed for over 12 months to develop a full and rounded flavour before being graded by the Master Cheese Grader for delicious taste and guaranteed quality.

Tom’s Toastie Menu:

Choose from old favourites including tomato, onion, ham, chorizo or spicy tomato chutney or why not try one of Wyke’s specials?:

Mushy peas and Extra Mature Cheddar
Monterey Jack, Chocolate Spread, and Marshmallows
Toastie’s are priced at approximately £5

Wyke’s mobile kitchens will be bringing a taste of their award-winning cheddar to the following events:

Tom’s Toasties

Common People Oxford, 26-27 May
Common People Southampton, 26-27 May
Royal Bath & West Show, Bath & West Showground, 30 May – 2 June
Home Farm Festival, Chilton Domer, 8-18 June
Weston Air Day, Weston Super-mare Seafront, 23-24 June
Giant Flea Market, Bath & West Showground, 15 July
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, 26-29 July
New Wine Festival, Bath & West Showground, 28 July – 11 August
Bestival, Lulworth Castle, 2-5 August
Boomtown Fair, Matterley Estate, Hampshire 9 -12 August
Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show 15 August
Fitfest, Bath & West Showground, 18-19 August
Giant Flea Market, 26 August
Pilton Party, Worthy Farm, 7 September
From Cheese Show, West Woodlands, Frome, 8 September
Dairy Show, Bath & West Showground, 9 October
Giant Flea Market, Bath & West Showground, 21 October
Footman James Classic Car Show, Bath & West Showground, 3 November
Santa South West, Bath & West Showground, 24 November – 20 December
Giant Flea Market, Bath & West Showground, 2 December
Tom’s Spuds
Bath Festival, The Recreation Ground Bath, 26-27 May
Royal Bath & West Show, Bath & West Showground, 30 May – 2 June
Glastonbury Extravaganza, Glastonbury Abbey, 4 August
More events are being booked and added daily.
For further information and bookings contact Debbie Fewell, Events Manager, Wyke Farms Ltd, Email: debbie.fewell@wykefarms.com  Tel: 07950 965152
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.

Wyke Farms have over 150 years of family farming experience. Wyke Farms’ cheese and butter is made with the milk from their cows grazing the lush pastures of the Mendip Hills in the centre of the Cheddar making region in Somerset.

Wyke Farms products are available nationwide and can be found in Asda, Co-op, Makro, Sainsbury’s Tesco and Waitrose.


Innovation abounds at Pig & Poultry Fair

Pig and poultry producers see the use of new technology to improve performance as one of the greatest opportunities in the years ahead, and there was plenty on offer at the Pig & Poultry Fair.
With everything from needle-free vaccines to automatic building controls, the Innovation Trail helped visitors to identify the latest technology to reach the market. And scooping the Pig World new product award was a 3D scanner designed by a pig farmer to automatically ‘weigh’ finishing pigs. The Fancom eYeGrow, created by Shropshire-based Harry Heath and his software designer brother-in-law Ben Wimmo impressed the judges as the one product that would have the biggest positive impact on the future of the industry.
Sold through JF McKenna, the eYeGrow took four years to develop, with the internet-based sensor suspended above the pigs and taking up to 20,000 readings a day, generating weigh data within 3% of actual body weights. “We need to know about weight continually throughout the process as historic data is no good,” said Mr Heath.
Farmers can use the system to measure feed conversion ratios and to spot any knockbacks in weight gain, enabling them to proactively manage change, without the stress and difficulties of weighing individual pigs. “It’s nice to have something that can change the industry,” he added. “I'm really passionate about that.”
Another new development, from the Scottish Rural University College, involved the use of 3D cameras to help farmers spot the early warning signs of tail biting, enabling them to act to prevent it. The research showed that pigs held their tails down against their body when tail biting is about to begin. “This research has achieved everything we hoped for,” said lead author Dr Rick D’Eath. “The challenge for us now is to develop this promising technology into a robust early warning system that works on any pig farm.”
In the broiler sector, ABN launched a new farm and supply chain management package at the Fair, designed to help optimise bird welfare and improve financial returns. Total Farm Performance consists of three service areas, which can be used alone or together: inFarm, inFocus and inDepth. The first takes a practical whole farm approach to optimise bird performance, the second brings together all the data for daily decision making, while the latter is retrospective data analysis.
“The broiler industry is one of small margins where little improvements can have big pay offs,” said Tom Glen at ABN. A trial of the service yielded a 9p improvement in margin over feed, and chick improvement. “If you scale that up to a larger broiler farm producing one million birds a year, the outcome could equate to around £90,000 extra margin.”
While there were plenty of housing systems and equipment on offer from more than 350 exhibitors, research by the Scottish Rural University College and ADAS, unveiled at the Fair, showed that farm management influences free-range layers’ welfare more than the housing system. In the first independent study of its kind in the UK, which compared flat deck and multi-tier housing, the research ousted any idea that one system is better than another.
Working with 42 flocks over 12 months, in conjunction with the British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association, scientists looked at a range of health and performance indicators. They found that while production was higher in multi-tier sheds, there were more keel bone fractures, whereas flat deck sheds had fewer fractures but higher mortality. “It’s clear that there are advantages and disadvantages to both systems,” said Bfrepa chief executive Robert Gooch. “The essential component to ensuring high standards of hen welfare is good stockmanship.”
There were a number of new products to help farmers improve their management, including new wireless environment monitors from PrognostiX, which were launched at the event. A collaboration between vets, computer engineers and data analysts, the package gives farmers a better understanding of environmental parameters, helping them to improve efficiencies and productivity across all pig and poultry sectors.
Being wireless, the monitors are a third of the price of wired sensors, meaning producers can install many more in a shed, providing a more complete picture of parameters including temperature, humidity and water consumption around the unit, said the firm’s Kenny Nutting. “Other applications can also send information into the same system, making it a very user-friendly option. The software immediately transforms the data into clear, visual representations that enable users to monitor performance over time and quickly identify trends of discrepancies, with automatic alerts when something goes wrong.”
Of course, when things do go wrong producers need to act fast, and the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) had a series of experts on stand to help farmers identify how to reduce antibiotic usage without compromising animal health and welfare. “It’s really important to have rapid diagnostics,” explained Professor Mark Fielder, who sits on RUMA’s independent science group. It can take 48 hours or more to identify what pathogen animals are infected with, by which point they may be past treating.
Kingston University is working on a number of projects to detect salmonella, staph aureus and mycoplasma more quickly and easily, with other research institutes doing similar work, said Prof Fielder. “If you know what you’re dealing with you can target it with the right antibiotic rather than having to take a broad spectrum approach. Dead bacteria don’t cause resistance.”
For those at the customer end of the supply chain, and wanting to add value to their produce by processing it themselves, Create a Cabin launched a new modular building shell to build a barn within a barn. The steel panel buildings are easy and cheap to construct, without the need for planning permission when inside an existing building, enabling producers to process their own produce on-site. “Forward-thinking farmers have moved from simply rearing livestock to adding value and selling the end product,” explained the firm’s Sebastian Dont. “We can make this simpler by avoiding the health, hygiene, planning and regulatory challenges.”
Event organiser Alice Bell said feedback from both visitors and exhibitors at the Fair had been tremendous. “It’s been a fantastic couple of days, with everyone enjoying this unique opportunity to network and find out about new products and ideas,” she said. “We hope that everyone has taken home some valuable information and tools to improve their business, and look forward to welcoming them back again in May 2020.”
·         The British Pig & Poultry Fair is the leading event for the UK pig, poultry and egg sectors. For more information visit www.pigandpoultry.org.uk.

25 Years of the British Cheese Awards & the British Cheese Industry

In 2018, the year that sees the year the British Cheese Awards celebrate its 25th anniversary, the British cheesemaking industry is in a positive position.
According to the British Cheese Board1. in 2018 the UK has over 700 differently named cheeses. A figure supported by entries for last year’s British Cheese Awards.  In 1994 296 cheeses were entered into the Awards, in 2017 there were 1,000 cheeses. That’s an increase of  +238%.
The same can be said of the number of cheesemakers that are working in the UK today. Although there is no official figure published for the number of UK based cheesemakers, if entries over the past 25 years for the Awards are to go by numbers have increased by well over a third. In 1994 97 cheesemakers entered the awards, in 2017 there were 134 makers. That’s an increase of  +39%.
Over the past 25 years the industry has experienced a real renaissance with new cheesemakers and new cheeses coming onto the scene. This is a far cry from the state of the industry just after the Second World War, when most traditional cheesemakers and cheeses had all but disappeared.

Peter Mitchell, chairman of the British Cheese Awards, says: “It’s incredibly encouraging to look at these numbers but it’s not just about these, it’s also about the quality of the cheeses being produced today. We have a superb industry here in the UK with dedicated cheesemakers, making award-winning cheeses that rival the quality of cheeses made in other countries. We’ve seen this in the entries that we’ve had for the awards over the past 25 years. It was also highlighted to me when Cornish Kern, a new cheese made by Lynher Dairies in Cornwall, won Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in London last November.”
Over the past 25 years the different methods and ingredients used to make cheese have also changed. Although the UK will always be the home of Cheddar (statistics published by DEFRA for December 2017 of all the cow’s milk produced that month that was used for cheese production around 70% of it was used to make Cheddar2.), cheesemakers are creating different styles of cheeses and also using different milks.
For the 2018 Awards the committee created a new award, Best Sheep Cheese Award. This new award recognizes the popularity of British cheeses made from sheep’s milk. In 1994 there were 20 cheeses made from ewe’s milk entered into the Awards, in 2017 there were 61, an increase of +205%. In fact last year’s Supreme Champion was a cheese made from sheep’s milk - Pavé Cobble, made by White Lake Cheese, Somerset.
Prior to the Second World War, the wives of dairy farmers had historically dominated the British cheesemaking industry. In 2018, the situation is completely different. As well as well established dairies, like Cropwell Bishop and Appleby’s, there are much newer makers like Hampshire Cheeses and Berkswell. New cheesemakers are starting up annually and some of the newest  include Carrie Rimes, David Jowett and Alex James.

  • Carrie Rimes set up her cheesemaking business Cosyn Cymru in Dyffryn Ogwen at Ffarm Moelyci, near Bethesda in North Wales just over three years ago.  Having worked for many years as a grassland scientist, at the age of 53 she decided to change careers and become a cheesemaker.
  • David Jowett, of King Stone Dairy, Oxfordshire, makes the award-winning Rollright cheese. David worked as a cheesemonger for the UK’s oldest cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield in Stratford-upon-Avon, before training to actually make cheese.
  • In fact in the UK, cheesemakers are come from all walks of life as Alex James of Alex James Presents shows. Before becoming a cheesemaker, Alex was the bassist for the internationally known indie/rock group Blur.

The British Cheese Awards will take place on Wednesday 30th May 2018 at the Royal Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. The judging and the presentation of the prizes at the awards dinner will all take place on the same day.
As well as Supreme Champion, the Reserve Champion, the four Country Awards and the eight Main Category Awards, there will also be a special Supreme Champion of Champions Award.
For details on how to enter this year’s cheese awards and a full schedule cheesemakers can use the following link http://www.britishcheeseawards.com.
Sponsors for this year’s awards include the following companies: Atalanta Corp, Atlas Packaging, Aubrey Allen, Barbers, Berkshire Labels, Bord Bia, Charlton House, Coombe Castle International, Delamere Dairy, DuPont™ Danisco®, Fine Food Digest, Harvey & Brockless, Marks & Spencer, Murray’s Cheese, Paxton & Whitfield, Peter Green Chilled, Rowcliffe, Anthony & Son, Somerdale International, Specialist Cheesemakers Association, Speciality Food Magazine, Tesco, The British Organic Dairy Company, The Fine Cheese Co., West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers, Wookey Hole Cave Aged and Wyke Farms Ltd.

1. http://www.cheeseboard.co.uk/
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684536/milkutil-statsnotice-02feb18.pdf

rbws_11787 Chesse_Infographic FV v1 HRES3.jpg

Grassland UK helps farmers make the most of their assets

Silage making is in full throe across much of the country, but following a difficult winter and spring farmers need to take care to maximise quality and quantity this year. And they picked up plenty of top tips at Grassland UK on Thursday (10 May), with a tremendous demonstration of new kit and a plethora of advice on offer.

After the wet winter and spring, many farmers need to remedy problems with their soil to maximise grassland productivity, according to Calcifert consultant Mark Tripney, who was speaking in the British Grassland Society seminars. “Poor root development limits a lot of crops, so dig a hole. Do you feel the spade resisting and at what depth? Are their worms? The spade is a great tool for saving money and for targeting nutrients and machinery use.”

There was plenty of equipment on display at the event, offering farmers a wide choice for relieving soil compaction, from subsoilers to aerators. “I think aeration is a great tool which is under-utilised,” said Mr Tripney. It removes the thatch of grass on the soil surface, which prevents nutrients from getting down into the soil profile, and opens up compaction, enabling roots to grow down to find those nutrients.

While many farmers make great use of manure to reduce fertiliser applications, one concern – particularly on dairy farms – is the high level of potassium in the soil from repeated slurry applications. This locks up magnesium, causing problems both for the grass and the cattle. “Beware of the antagonisms which might be on your farm,” warned Mr Tripney. And test the soil for more than N, P and K. “Around 60% of grassland is short of calcium, which is essential for the structure of the soil and for cell development in the plant.”

Supplying sufficient nutrients for the crop is, of course, essential, and it’s vital to get on with aftercut fertiliser as soon as possible after taking the first cut of silage, said Graham Ragg, senior agronomist at Mole Valley Farmers. “You lose 2% a day in second cut yields for every day you delay putting on fertiliser after taking first cut,” he explained. “So if you wait a week you lose 14% or about 1t/acre.”

According to a survey by Germinal, over 40% of dairy farmers had shortened their cutting intervals over the past three years, with 92% reporting better silage quality as a result. However, it’s vital to choose the right grass mixtures, and the new Recommended Grass and Clover List, launched at Grassland UK, featured a number of new varieties, including AberBann and AberSwan from the IBERS breeding programme.

Oliver Seeds also launched a new multi-species grass mixture at the event, to meet increasing demand from farmers for species-rich herbal leys. “Multi-species swards have a lot of advantages over straight ryegrass leys,” said general manager Rod Bonshor. These include enhanced stress tolerance and persistence, with greater root mass and depth, and extended growth at both ends of the season. “The forage also has greater palatability, a higher trace element and mineral content, and some plants have anthelmintic properties which helps combat any worming problems.”

For those interested in the physical aspects of silage making there was lots of kit to choose from, from Fendt’s Katana forage harvester to John Deere’s new V400 variable chamber round balers. With more than 180 exhibitors across the 100-acre site, working machinery demonstrations included SIP’s Air Swath 300F, which made its UK working debut and is designed to produce top quality silage, free from soil and stones.

OPICO had the new HE-VA Grass Rejuvenator, designed to over-seed and reseed leys, while in the muck demonstration area Vredo Dodewaard demonstrated its self-propelled VT4556 TEBBE spreader and VT7028-2 liquid slurry machine.

Massey Ferguson enjoyed significant interest in a variety of new equipment  – and William Judge, head of UK and Ireland noted an upbeat feel among dairy farmers. “People are investing in kit now while the milk price is good,” he said. “Ahead of Brexit, they are using this opportunity to invest while they know they still have the budget to do so.”

However, LIC’s Piers Badnell – who wrapped up the event in the final seminar of the day – warned farmers to create a lean, efficient business to survive post Brexit. “Volatility is here to stay and every business needs to make a profit under all eventualities,” he said. The UK has a climate suitable for grass growth, so farmers should be making more use of that to cut input costs.

On average, UK dairy farmers use just under 50% grass in the diet – but for every 10% point increase above this, farmers will save 4p/litre in costs of production, he added. But while it’s important to reduce external costs like concentrates and fuel, it’s vital to view labour as an investment.

“Good staff and attention to detail are the keys to every efficient business,” said Alan Lyons, head of shows at the Royal Bath & West Society. “But it’s also vital for those staff to keep up-to-date with the latest advice, technology and ideas. There was plenty of each on offer at Grassland UK and we were delighted to see so many people turn out at what is always a busy farming time of year.”

·       For more information and to book tickets head to www.bathandwest.com.


A wonderful opportunity has come up to take on the tenancy of a substantial farm in Mid Devon. Stags is offering Haske and Bradley Farms, Shobrooke, Crediton, Devon to let on a 10-year Farm Business Tenancy. The farms extend to approximately 373 acres of primarily Grade 2 and 3 arable land and, either separately or combined, present an enticing prospect for existing farmers to expand on current enterprises or indeed for new entrants to build a business.

 Lydia Cox of Stags says: “The land is coupled with two ranges of useful modern farm buildings, which include a 1,400-tonne capacity for grain storage with drying facilities. This is valuable for a holding of this size, as being able to dry grain on site and have the flexibility to sell it at the most appropriate time without incurring storage charges helps to improve profitability.”

 With the owners retiring, this rare opportunity is available as a whole or in two lots with Haske Farm extending to 145 acres and Bradley Farm to 228 acres. The two farms are currently farmed by the owners and run together as an arable unit using minimal tilling and direct drilling. It is hoped that the prospective tenant will continue to farm in the same manner.

 While the owners are offering a 10-year Farm Business Tenancy, this will come with three-yearly rent reviews, which will help give protection to both parties as the future level of farm subsidies is likely to change in a post-Brexit world. The Basic Payment Scheme entitlements will be transferred to the successful applicant or applicants and tenders are expected on this basis.

 If you would like to obtain further information or attend one of the viewing days, please contact Lydia Cox or Alex Rew of Stags, Tiverton on 01884 235 701 or email l.cox@stags.co.uk

Beavers do dam good work cleaning water, research reveals

Beavers could help clean up polluted rivers and stem the loss of valuable soils from farms, new research shows.
The study, undertaken by scientists at the University of Exeter using a captive beaver trial run by the Devon Wildlife Trust, has demonstrated the significant impact the animals have had on reducing the flow of tonnes of soil and nutrients from nearby fields into a local river system.
The research, led by hydrologist Professor Richard Brazier, found that the work of a single family of beavers had removed high levels of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus from the water that flowed through their 2.5 hectare enclosure.
The family of beavers, which have lived in fenced site at a secret location in West Devon since 2011, have built 13 dams, slowing the flow of water and creating a series of deep ponds along the course of what was once a small stream.
Researchers measured the amount of sediment suspended, phosphorus and nitrogen in water running into the site and then compared this to water as it ran out of the site having passed through the beavers’ ponds and dams. They also measured the amount of sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen trapped by the dams in each of the ponds.
Their results showed the dams had trapped more than 100 tonnes of sediment, 70% of which was soil, which had eroded from ‘intensively managed grassland’ fields upstream. Further investigation revealed that this sediment contained high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are nutrients known to create problems for the wildlife in rivers and streams and which also need to be removed from human water supplies to meet drinking-quality standards.  
The research was funded by Westland Countryside Stewards and the Natural Environment Research Council and conducted by a team from the University of Exeter led by Professor of Earth Surface Processes, Richard Brazier. Professor Brazier said:
“It is of serious concern that we observe such high rates of soil loss from agricultural land, which are well in excess of soil formation rates. However, we are heartened to discover that beaver dams can go a long way to mitigate this soil loss and also trap pollutants which lead to the degradation of our water bodies. Were beaver dams to be commonplace in the landscape we would no doubt see these effects delivering multiple benefits across whole ecosystems, as they do elsewhere around the world.”
The research findings about beavers’ positive impact on soil erosion losses and pollution in water courses come at a time of growing concern about these issues. In 2009 a separate study estimated that the total cost of soil loss from the UK’s agricultural land was £45million, much of which was due to the impacts of sediment and nutrient pollution downstream.
Devon Wildlife Trust has been conducting its enclosed beaver trial for seven years, while since 2015 it has also been running another beaver project involving a population of wild-living beavers on the River Otter, East Devon. The charity’s Director of Conservation and Development, Peter Burgess said:
“Our partnership with Exeter University working on both our fenced and unfenced beaver trials is revealing information which shows the critical role beavers can play, not only for wildlife, but the future sustainability of our land and water. It is truly inspiring to have our observations confirmed by detailed scientific investigations.”
The research, ‘Sediment and Nutrient Storage in a Beaver Engineered Wetland’ is published in the academic journal, Earth Processes and Landforms. It is available to read on-line at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/esp.4398

Five week-long Rose Festival to take place at RHS Garden Rosemoor

From 16 June to 22July, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Torrington, Devon will host a five-week-long Rose Festival: a breath-taking showcase of colours and scents set against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful RHS Gardens, bordered by acres of stunning woodlands. Swathes of scented blooms, floral workshops and unusual cultivars on sale make this a must-see for Devon visitors this summer.

Boasting one of the UK’s largest collections of roses, RHS Garden Rosemoor is home to two dedicated rose gardens, bringing together over 2000 roses across more than 200 different varieties and a wealth of hues and perfumes. From cottage garden climbers, to bright and beautiful container varieties, there will be a rose to inspire and suit all gardens.

Top highlights from the festival, include guided tours, expert advice from RHS horticulturists, a floral themed craft market, a rose trail, and much, much more.

Festival Events and Highlights:

  • Rose Weekend, extended to a three-day event from on 22 to 24 June featuring a floral-themed craft and food market with over 40 stalls in the stunning new Garden Room events building.
  • Brand New for 2018 and to celebrate the centenary of the end of the First World War and in memory of those who lost their lives, Rosemoor has planted a group of Rosa Pax. Latin for ‘peace’, Rosa ‘Pax’ is a hybrid musk rose and was developed by the rose breeder, Joseph Pemberton and launched in 1918 to commemorate the end of WW1.
  • The Reverend Joseph Hardwick Pemberton grew up in the village of Havering-atte-Bower (now within the London Borough of Havering). Roses were a passion throughout his life, but it wasn’t until his retirement from the clergy that he began rose breeding. He created a new type of shrub rose which he called ’hybrid musks’. These are highly scented, with large clusters of flowers which bloom for months. Pemberton’s roses are still highly sought after today.
  • Armed Forces Day, 30 June                                                                                 

A 100 red ceramic poppies, interpreted and designed by artist Renée Kilburn will be on display to start our commemorations of the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Armed forces personnel have free admission to Rosemoor today – simply bring ID. The display will stay up until 11 November when we welcome all serving and retired armed forces personnel plus a family guest in for free (simply bring proof to the front entrance). Then the poppies will continue to be displayed as part of our annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition. The red poppies are available to purchase with a £3.50 donation on every poppy sold going to the Royal British Legion.

  • Rosemoor’s Garden Kitchen will be celebrating roses throughout the month with a delectable series of rose-inspired and rose-infused treats, from rose meringues to rose and raspberry cakes.
  • ‘Late’ openings every Friday in July - 6, 13, 20 and 27, when the garden will be open until 9pm and visitors can enjoy the gardens at dusk as the roses release their evening scent. Special offer of ‘5 after 5’ - £5 garden admission after 5pm. There will be live music and the restaurant will be serving delicious evening meals too (advance table reservations highly recommended).
  • Every Wednesday, there will rose-themed Afternoon Teas (pre-booking required) including an expert florist will demonstrate flower arranging techniques with English roses and be present for a Q & A session.
  • The Celebrate Summer self-guided trail will take visitors on a historic, scented journey throughout the 65 acre garden and includes stunning rose varieties and their fascinating stories from the Queen Mother’s Rose Garden and the Shrub Rose Garden, down the Long Borders, the Cottage Garden, as well as other roses at Rosemoor House.

Normal garden admission applies, which is free for RHS Members. Please visit www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor/whatson or call 01805 626810 for more details.

Water drinking stations to be installed at this year’s Royal Bath & West Show

Water drinking stations will be installed at this year’s Royal Bath & West Show, it has been announced, in an effort to reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles at the event. This is part of a commitment by the Show to phasing out single-use plastics altogether in the future.
BW Cup 2Visitors and exhibitors alike are being encouraged to bring their own bottles or cups this year, topping them up at one of six water stations that will be clearly signposted at the event.
Reusable branded cups with lids will be available to purchase for those who do not bring their own. These will be given to all the volunteers at the Show in place of the bottles of water that have been distributed in previous years, reducing waste by almost 1,000 bottles across the four day event.
Rupert Cox, Chief Executive of the Royal Bath & West of England Society, which organises the Show, said, “We take our environmental responsibility very seriously and, while 99% of the waste from the Show already goes to an ‘energy from waste’ plant, the issue of single-use plastic needs to be addressed.
“This year we are encouraging our volunteers not to rely on plastic bottles, but to use the new drinking stations that we are installing across the showground. From next year we will be clamping down on the food vendors who, while already using recyclable and compostable packaging, will be expected to reduce their use and sale of single-use plastics.”
W-904_previewThe Royal Bath & West Show requires caterers to use paper cups, plates and containers as well as wooden cutlery for recycling purposes, with polystyrene or plastic cups, containers and cutlery not permitted on the showground.
The Show’s Catering Co-ordinator, Chloë Warren, added, “As far as possible we are trying to encourage caterers to use alternatives to plastic and choose paper or wooden products instead. We also work with as many local caterers and food producers as possible to support local companies and reduce the carbon footprint of the food that is available at the showground. It is really important to us that the food sold on-site is sourced both locally and sustainably, and this is reflected in the high quality of the dishes that are available, created using some of the finest local produce.”
Now in its 155th year, the Royal Bath & West Show is not only one of the biggest agricultural shows in the country but it will also be the largest event happening in Somerset this year. Taking place at the Bath & West Showground near Shepton Mallet from 30 May to 2 June, the Royal Bath & West Show is England’s only four-day royal show, bringing together the very best of British agriculture, entertainment and food & drink. Information and tickets are available from www.bathandwest.com, with a special Advance Saver ticket available until 29 May, which admits one adult plus two children free of charge for only £22.

Highbullen - Spring Offer: Two Night Garden Break

With Highbullen’s two-night Garden Break guests can experience the delights of RHS Rosemoor and Castle Hill, two of the most beautiful gardens in north Devon, located within easy reach of the hotel. Priced from £179 per night for two people and available until the end of June, the package includes two tickets to one of the gardens, as well as a Devon Cream Tea on arrival, a hearty breakfast, and dinner each evening in the Devon View restaurant, serving a carefully crafted menu of local produce that changes with the seasons.
For further information please visit www.highbullen.co.uk.

Field to Food Learning Day 2018 – The Biggest & Best Yet!

The Bath & West Showground was once again a hub of fun and learning as 1,200 key stage two schoolchildren visited on Wednesday 18 April for the third annual Field to Food Learning Day.

Pupils from primary schools across the West Country enjoyed a hands-on insight of farming and food production; meeting farmers and their livestock, getting up close to farm machinery, trying their hand at butter making with Wyke Farms, putting sheep through an m.o.t with Shepton Vets, milking the Hurdlebrook Guernseys, along with a host of other interactive exhibits.

Delivered as part of The Royal Bath & West of England Society’s charitable objectives, Field to Food was created to educate young people about farming and food production in engaging ways, and was devised in collaboration with educational specialists to ensure that it satisfies aspects of the National Curriculum.  The activities on offer were designed to illustrate how the food and drink that they consume arrives on their table.  All the activities were specifically aimed at children aged 7 -11, offering a variety of hands, eyes, ears and noses-on learning.  

Mole Valley Farmers brought a range of agri-technology appliances for the children to check out, from cattle handling systems to EID devices.

‘We’re delighted to support the Field to Food initiative’ said Mark Cox of Mole Valley Farmers

‘We have a responsibility to make sure that the next generation has an understanding and appreciation of farming and food production, and this event provides the perfect vehicle to do just that’

Mark’s colleague, Richard Griffiths added, ‘Today was a real success!  The children were all so enthusiastic and responsive to the activities.  It was a pleasure to be involved in such a successful event.’

The year 5 & 6 children from Farrington Gurney C of E Primary were buzzing following their day at the Bath & West, ‘It was such a fun experience! We loved that we could get our hands on the activities.’

‘The steward that guided us around was so helpful’

‘Our favourite things were the sheep shearing, lambs, and the huge machines!’

The Farrington Gurney pupils’ teacher, Miss Higgins was impressed by the level of organisation ‘For the children to get the most out of their day it’s so important that the event is well organised and Field to Food certainly was.  It all ran so smoothly’

Rupert Cox, Chief Executive of The Royal Bath & West of England Society, emphasized the importance of illustrating the link between farming and food, and how the event has quickly become a crucial date in the Bath & West calendar,

‘The Field to Food education day has become an integral part of the Society’s work in informing and educating young consumers about where their food comes from and the hard work farmers do to make sure we eat the very best of British food. For the children to be able look, hear, smell and get their hands dirty must be the most effective way to learn. For our volunteer supporters that make the day happen it is also a great learning experience for them as they get to hear what the next generation of consumer thinks of farming and food.’

On 1 May, BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time records a programme at RHS Garden Rosemoor.

The celebrated panel of gardening experts, including Bob Flowerdew, Anne Swithinbank and Neil Porteous along with Eric Robson in the chair, will be tackling the questions put to them by local gardening enthusiasts.

Gardeners’ Question Time is a Radio 4 institution, attracting over 2 million listeners a week. Recorded in a different location each week, this long-standing radio programme has answered well over 30,000 questions since its inception in 1947.

The panel members have been guests of a diverse range of gardening clubs and other organisations; including recording at the top of Snowdon, broadcasting from Buckingham Palace and answering questions from inside Number 10 Downing Street.

The panel never see the questions before the recording.  Their encyclopaedic, seemingly effortless answers are completely spontaneous and reveal their huge experience and depth of gardening knowledge. Being on the GQT panel is not for the faint hearted!

Hosted by RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon EX38 8PH

Tickets cost £4.50 and are available to purchase from rhs.org.uk/rosemoor and include a complimentary glass of wine or fruit juice and also garden admission from 4pm.



Budding young chefs in the South of England have until Friday 20th April to enter their recipe creations to the Young Pea Chef of the Year 2018 competition, run by the Yes Peas! campaign and the Ocado Foundation, to be in with a chance of winning a grow-your-own project for their school.
The Ocado Foundation is offering each winning child a £500 donation for their school to fund 'Grow-Your-Own' projects as well as a personalised cooking hamper for the winning chef worth £50.
The Young Pea Chef of the Year 2018 is on the lookout for three talented children to take the title across three separate categories, including primary school children of any age up to Year Six, secondary school children in Years 7 and 8 and, due to high demand, this year’s new category for secondary school children in Years 9 to 11.
With support from chefs, media and farmers across the UK and with an incredible prize on offer from The Ocado Foundation, school children are invited to create a delicious dish using Britain’s favourite family vegetable, the humble pea and delight the UK with their fantastic feasts. The competition aims to challenge budding young chefs to develop a healthy and delicious recipe which includes the Great British pea as star of the show.
Rachel Green, Yes Peas! campaign ambassador and TV chef, said: “Last year we received over 100 fantastic recipes from children from across the UK, so we’re very excited to see what this year will bring. Thanks to the support from The Ocado Foundation, we hope to encourage even more young cooks to get involved and learn more about cooking with the Great British pea!
“Grow-Your-Own projects are a fantastic way to help children learn how vegetables are produced. Peas are an amazing source of vitamin A and C, are rich in protein, carbohydrate and fibre, and low in fat. The great British pea has been gracing our dinner tables for generations and we’re looking forward to seeing what the next generation can produce!”
Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility at the Ocado Group, said: "The Ocado Foundation is very proud to be sponsoring the Young Pea Chef of the Year competition for 2018 – it’s wonderful to help children learn more about where their food comes from, and support them in finding new ways to eat healthily. We’re very much looking forward to seeing what this year can cook up and the amazing recipes that will be created in the kitchen with this great British vegetable!”
To enter the Young Pea Chef of the Year, in association with The Ocado Foundation, and for full terms and conditions, visit www.youngpeachef.co.uk. For pea recipe examples, visit www.peas.org.
Follow the competition on Twitter @YesPeas and use the hashtag #youngpeachef to find out about the budding Young Pea Chefs and share your thoughts on who deserves to be crowned Young Pea Chef of the Year 2017.

Weather woes ramp up pressure on region's arable farmers

Freezing temperatures, snow and heavy rain have combined to wipe out arable farmers’ chances of getting on with early spring fieldwork.

March and April are key months for taking out the weeds known to hit yield at harvest time.

But across south west England farmers have struggled to find dry fields where crops are ready for applications and soils are able to handle heavy machinery.

DowDuPont says there are a number of things growers can do to help catch up as soon as the opportunity presents itself.  

“Growers now have a lot to do and there is going to be a big crunch on available time,” said Dr Alex Nichols, the company’s cereals herbicide product manager.

“We’re advising them to walk fields and identify which weeds are present and how big they are.

“This should be followed up by choosing the right product to control them and ensuring they have it in the store ready to go.

“Choosing weed killers that can be tank mixed in the sprayer with other crop protection products, growth regulators and trace elements will tick off more jobs in a single pass.”

Dr Nichols says growers should prioritise fields where weeds are bigger or where the weed spectrum is likely to compete with crops and rob yield.

In the region’s fields the main broad-leaved weeds being identified are cleavers, poppies, cranesbill, fumitory, fat hen, chickweed, brassicas and mayweeds.

“Taking weeds out before they can really compete with the crop can be hugely important to yield,” Dr Nichols said. “It also means the combine is only cutting a crop, not a big pile of weeds.”

Grassweeds such as bromes and ryegrasses are also present and need stopping before they get too big to control.

DowDuPont’s Broadway Star is widely used to tackle grassweed pressure, and Dr Nichols says it needs to go on as soon as possible.

“For broad-leaved weed populations, Zypar contains Arylex Active which works in cold and variable conditions to target the key problem weeds,” he added.

“Using a reliable product in a year where time is not on growers’ side is going to be absolutely vital.”

Re-think approach to reseeding after late spring

With weather and soil conditions far from perfect for reseeding this spring, Rod Bonshor, general manager for Oliver Seeds, is urging farmers to be patient and wait a couple of weeks before heading into the fields with a drill.
“This is the tardiest spring that I can remember,” says Mr. Bonshor. “Looking at our trials site in Gloucestershire this week, the only species that are showing any signs of growth are the festuloliums and some of the Italian ryegrasses. Everything else is still in its winter state.
“Soil temperatures, even in the south west are still in single figures and farmers will do well to delay any reseeding. The growth check on fields sown now will never make up the performance of seeds drilled in better conditions, in a few weeks time.”
Mr. Bonshor suggests farmers use this unexpected quiet time to walk the fields and assess the state of the sward and any weed infestations, as weeds often start growing at lower temperatures than the grass.
“What might be best is to take a first cut of silage which will help refill silage stocks, and then to spray off the sward and put in a catch crop brassica, such as Winfred forage rape or a mixture of forage rape, stubble turnips and kale like Autumn Feed. Sown in mid April, this will be ready to graze in July, making an ideal entry for a new grass crop in August.
“This also destroys the ‘green bridge’ on which pests such as leatherjackets and frit fly like to live and it also helps with perennial weed control.”
Mr. Bonshor also feels there might be a lot of overseeding into older and gappy swards, over the next two months, where the time to do full reseeds has been missed.
“Using mixtures like Typhoon, with large seeded, aggressive species such as hybrid tetraploid ryegrasses and festulolium, are essential for overseeding to succeed. These seeds are competing with grass that already has a root system, so they need to be robust enough to get in and establish.”

Native breeds in the spotlight at Royal Bath & West Show

Native breeds and the local rural economy will be at the heart of the Royal Bath & West Show this year, with new livestock and equine classes and world class West Country food and drink.
The Show – which is now in its 155th year – will feature new Ayrshire and British Blonde cattle classes, as well introducing North Country Cheviot and Southdown classes to the sheep ring. In addition, there will be new classes for Hackney horses, with a whole day of private driving on the first day of the event.
“Some of our native breeds are really under threat,” explains head of shows Alan Lyons. “Hackney horses – once the mainstay of London cab transport - are now critical on the Rare Breed Survival Trust list. Otterhounds, which have a great tradition in the West Country, are one of the most endangered dog breeds in the country, with only 28 puppies registered last year. That’s why we’re so pleased to invite these important breeds to the show, to raise their profile and help people to understand more about them.”
Sheep entries – which reached a record 1,525 head last year – are already looking very positive, and visitors can also look forward to fast and furious competition including the Six Nations wool handling championship and live team shoeing in the farrier area.
Other new features include stunt bikes in the Sports Village, the Dorset Axemen in the woodland area, and cider and cheese pairing alongside the British Cider Championships and British Cheese Awards. “As a charity, we feel it’s important to champion and support local businesses, so most of our 125 food exhibitors – including the cheekily named ‘Donald’s Rump’ – are from the west Country,” says Mr Lyons. “We’ve also got plenty of live music and a new app to make it easier to plan your day.”
The Royal Bath & West Society puts its money where its mouth is, by partnering with local organisations and businesses rather than contracting out through agencies, explains chief executive Rupert Cox. The show enjoys the support of more than 400 stewards and volunteers, 60 girl guides, and even the Castle Cary rugby club, which operates the main ring. “Somerset also has a strong tradition in carnivals, so we like to partner with local carnival clubs,“ he adds.
But it’s not all about the local talent. The show attracts judges from all over the world, along with some of the best livestock and food in the country. “We have over 11,000 competitive entries, from chickens and cheese to shire horses and sheep,” says Mr Cox. “Some classes are national championships in their own right, while others are qualifiers for prestigious events like Horse of the Year Show and Olympia. This really is a regional show with national significance.”
The Royal Bath & West Show will be held on 30 May – 2 June. Tickets are available from the website: http://www.bathandwest.com/royal-bath-and-west-show/visitors/tickets or by calling 0844 776 6777.
For further information or media enquiries contact Olivia Cooper on 01392 840009 or e-mail olivia@agri-hub.co.uk.

Are we safe drivers?

The race to put driverless cars on public roads might not be as culturally pressing as the Space Race of the 1960s, but you’re more likely to notice its impact in your day-to-day life.
Last November, the US saw its first fully driverlessride-hailing service (without a safety driver) hit the road thanks to Waymo, while the UK aims to have driverless cars on our roads by 2021.
The first big step in achieving this comes in the form of the HumanDrive project: a 200-mile autonomous journey across the UK. The car will be prepared for this journey through a series of tests designed to emulate human drivers.
But will the UK have a harder time putting this plan into action? Unlike the US’ highways and easy-to-navigate straight roads, anyone who’s had to drive anywhere off the beaten path here in the south west will know that our road systems here in the UK are comparatively more complicated.
If you visit the HumanDrive website, you’ll see a gorgeous landscape shot; the rolling green hills ahead of a stunning sunset. Through the middle of the scene? A winding country road.
The website says that the lengthy journey the prototype is to take will consist of A-roads, motorways and, of course, country lanes, all under a variety of weather conditions. The aim here is to help develop a stronger, safer system. If the cars can tackle these roads, the project will be one step closer to achieving its goal: natural, human-like control.
The more we think about this exciting project, the more we think about how we currently commute. How safe are we when we drive?
A quick visit to the THINK! webpage on country road safety reveals some surprising facts. They state that 59% of all road fatalities occur on country roads. Reasons for this include the narrow width of the roads, in addition to sharp corners and plant life obscuring a driver’s view.
These roads also run through the homes of local wildlife, and encountering an unexpected hazard, such as an animal, is not as rare as you might think. Because Animal road deaths are so unfortunately common on UK roads, the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society (DLPS) began marking livestock with reflective paint in 2015.
So, how can we ensure we stay safe? THINK! offer some brilliant advice to all drivers planning to venture onto a country road.
They suggest that drivers should be able to anticipate potential hazards by paying attention to the road in front of them. This could mean being more considerate when sharing the road with other road users (like horse riders or cyclists), or exercising patience with slower vehicles. Hasty decisions in these moments could end up disastrously.
Perhaps the most important lesson is not to take the road for granted. Even if you know the road like the back of your hand, you may never know what’s around the corner on a country road. THINK! suggests you approach a country road with the conditions of the road at that moment in mind.
It might seem less nerve-wrecking to imagine a car tackling these roads, when accidents caused by human drivers are so common. We hope that as we find out more aware of the exciting HumanDrive project,  we will all take a moment to consider our  own road safety.
To find out more advice on country road safety, visit the THINK! website: http://think.direct.gov.uk/country-roads.html
For more information on HumanDrive, visit the website: https://www.humandrive.co.uk/

Devon Bat Survey Opens for Bookings

A Devon-based project dedicated to conserving one of the county's most endangered animals is now appealing for volunteers to help it in its vital work.

Find out about the bats on your doorstep! This spring and summer, you can take part in a major scientific bat survey run by the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project. The survey allows volunteers to borrow a detector from one of 20 monitoring centres dotted around the county, to place in a selected 1km grid square for 3 nights. Anyone can get involved in the survey – no experience is needed and full instructions are supplied. Everyone who takes part receives a report detailing the bats they recorded. All the bat calls recorded will be used to increase knowledge of how bats are using the Devon landscape, and what can be done to help them.

The booking system for Devon Bat Survey 2018 is now live! To take part, visit our website to choose a square www.devonbatproject.org/devon-bat-survey/. We have some new locations hosting our bat detectors this year, so hopefully even more people will be able to take part.

Ruth Testa, who manages the project, said: ‘Knowledge of how bats are using our landscape is key to protecting them. This survey allows us to gain information across the county, and will let you find out what bats are using your local area. In 2017, survey volunteers recorded greater horseshoe bats at 230 sites out of the 705 surveyed. In total the survey recorded a whopping 750,000 sound files!’

The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project is a 5-year partnership project of 18 organisations led by Devon Wildlife Trust and is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), as well as other funders. The project aims to secure the future of the greater horseshoe bat in Devon; the northern European stronghold of this highly threatened mammal. To do this the project is working with landowners and communities to raise awareness and to improve habitats, as well as running research programmes like the Devon Bat Survey to increase understanding of bat species.

The Monitoring Centres for 2018 are as follows;

·       Avon Mill Garden Centre, Loddiswell

·       Beehive Community Complex, Honiton

·       Braunton Countryside Centre, Braunton

·       Combe Martin Museum & tourist information point, Combe Martin

·       Chudleigh Town Hall, Chudleigh

·       Blackdown Hills AONB, Hemyock

·       The Dartington Hall Estate, Totnes

·       Devon Wildlife Trust, Cricklepit Mill

·       Devon Wildlife Trust Cookworthy Forest Centre, Cookworthy

·       Eggesford Garden Centre, Eggesford

·       Lydford Gorge National Trust, Lydford

·       Mole Avon Forecourt, Okehampton

·       Occombe Farm (Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust), Paignton

·       Poole Farm, Plymouth

·       Puffing Billy Trading Co., Great Torrington

·       Quince Honey Farm, South Molton

·       Seaton Jurassic, Seaton

·       Stover Country Park, near Bovey Tracey

·       Tamar Valley Centre, Drakewalls

·       The Watermark, Ivybridge

Detail not more words needed in delivering vision for future of farming, says CLA

The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses has reacted with disappointment to the many unanswered questions that remain following the publication of the consultation on future farming policy by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs today (27 February).

The long-anticipated consultation paper is the pre-cursor to promised legislation that is required to manage the transition of the UK’s farming industry out of the EU and the Common Agricultural Policy.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: "We are up for change; we can do better than the existing EU farming policy. We can make our industry more productive and more profitable and we can deliver world-leading standards in animal welfare and environmental protection. But to do this we need certainty and time to plan. That is what we were promised and instead we have open questions, few decisions and no answers.

"In just over a year from now we will be leaving the EU. Love it or hate it, the EU has shaped the way we farm, provided most of our customers and been a source of vital income for thousands of businesses.

"Our businesses can thrive outside the EU but we need to make plans, to adapt where necessary, and to invest where possible. Government has a responsibility to provide clarity and as greater certainty as it is possible to give. We will be asking Ministers for urgent answers on when they will deliver this.

"The consultation sets out important areas where decisions are needed:  how can we manage an effective transition out of the current system, how long should it be? If money is to be removed, how much and from whom? Our message is that in the short-term, only money that is clearly necessary for transitional measures should be taken out of the system, and no business, no matter how wealthy its owners are perceived to be, should face sudden and dramatic cuts.

"In a few months the Government will bring forward legislation that will set the direction for the next generation of farming and land management. It has promised a bold vision for a profitable industry which can deliver environmental management, one we consistently have supported.  But it is the detail, not the words, that will define farming's future and this is still seriously lacking."