A sparkling Christmas at Hestercombe

Excitement is building for the festive season as Hestercombe prepares for this weekend’s annual Christmas Market.

Guaranteed to include some of the area’s best producers of food, drink, jewellery, cosmetics, and homewares, you’ll be sure to find the perfect gift for that special someone.

 With more than 60 stalls there will be plenty to see and do from Friday 17th -Sunday 19th November, as choirs perform carols in the Courtyard and entertainment for your little ones is provided on Saturday and Sunday only.

Deliciously festive and wonderfully-crumbly mince pies, indulgent Yule log and mugs of creamy hot chocolate are all available in the Stables Café and Bampfylde Hall.

 The market spells the beginning of Christmas for us here at Hestercombe, and there are plenty more festive events to get you in the spirit.

Our wreath making sessions have proved so popular that we are now running a waiting list and if we have enough interest we will run another session on Saturday, December 2.

Fabulous florist Jan Waters will be on hand to help your creative juices flow as you make your very own wreath with green foliage, dried fruit, and other materials selected from the gardens at Hestercombe. You’ll also be treated to a mince pie and a cup of either tea or coffee.

Our annual Festive Skating sessions return this year, so you and your family can enjoy gliding around our artificial skate rink, housed in a magical winter marquee.

When you’ve got your skates off, you might like to check out our Christmas Trail around the gardens. Running from Saturday, 2nd December until Sunday, 7th January, the trail costs just £1 per child.

Of course it wouldn’t be Christmas at all without the man in red coming to pay a visit.

And sure enough, Father Christmas has found time in his busy schedule to come and spend some time at Hestercombe in our wintertime gardens. He’ll be waiting in his folly in the Landscape Garden with a roaring log fire and a sack full of presents for those lucky children who come to see him.

We’re delighted to welcome Folksy Theatre back to Hestercombe on Sunday 17th and Monday 18th December for a Christmas production of The Snow Queen - a story of friendship, bravery and love. Perfect for all the family, this is sure to get you feeling festive, and on Thursday, December 21, The Taunton Concert Band rounds off the Hestercombe Christmas programme, with their symphonic wind band playing in the Bampfylde Hall. Modern and traditional come together with this festive collection of Christmas carols sure to get you ready for the big day itself.

For information on booking all our Christmas events, please visit our website at www.hestercombe.com

Please #rememberhedgehogs on Bonfire Night

With bonfire night and Halloween fast approaching, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) is urging people to build bonfires on the day they are to be lit to save hedgehogs and other wildlife from appalling suffering. This will not only save wildlife from burning to death but will also stop the bonfire from getting soaked should it rain the night before! Fay Vass, Chief Executive of BHPS, said “If material is stored on open ground in advance of having a bonfire, it’s crucial to dismantle it and move it to another spot just before lighting. Ensure it’s moved to clear ground – never on top of a pile of leaves as there could be a hedgehog underneath, and not too close to pampas grass which can ignite very easily and is another favourite spot for hedgehogs to hide under.”

If a large bonfire must be built in advance, protect it whilst building by putting some chicken wire, at least one-metre-high, all the way around the bottom. This should be held in place with stakes and the wire should slope outwards at an angle to make it difficult to climb, as hedgehogs are good climbers! In case you have missed anything light the fire from one side only and keep people away from the unlit side so that any hedgehogs can hopefully escape in peace.

If, whilst building, a bonfire is left unattended, for however short a time, it’s imperative to check for young children, hedgehogs and other animals, including family pets, before lighting. As hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, check by gently lifting the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom. Never use a spade or fork as these can stab them. Using a torch will help to see and listen for a hissing sound, as this is the noise they make when disturbed. Fay continues “If hedgehogs are found, take as much of the nest as you can and place them in a high-sided cardboard or plastic box with plenty of newspaper/old towelling. Ensure there are air holes in the lid and that the lid is secured firmly to the box, as hedgehogs are great climbers. Wear garden gloves so as not to get human smells on them and to keep them calm as hedgehogs are easily stressed – also, it protects your hands from their spikes. Put the box in a safe quiet place such as a shed or garage well away from the festivities, offer specialist hedgehog food, meaty cat or dog food and water. Once the bonfire is totally dampened down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs.”

Going to an official organised fireworks display is a far safer option for both humans and animals!

For more information on helping hedgehogs please see www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk

Enjoy magical illuminations on a greatly extended trail

RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon is always a treat and is beautiful throughout the year. This year, following all the wonderful feedback from our first illuminations in 2016, visitors can once again enjoy the garden lit up on a greatly extended trail. Innovative hi-tech, dynamic colour-changing illuminations provide a magical festive trail around the trees, shrubs and winter sculptures.

 This year, the trail is roughly 4 -5 times the length with additional dates too running from 17 November through to 6 January 2017. It takes in the Formal Gardens and into the Stream Field where visitors can buy warming hot drinks and snacks at the Shepherd’s Rest – a brand new al-fresco catering facility. The trail then follows back down the Long Borders and incorporating displays in the Hot Garden and all around the Winter Garden too.

 Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday the gardens will be open until 8.30pm to maximise the effects of the lighting into the evening hours, and on those days garden entry will be discounted after 3pm.The award-winning Garden Kitchen Restaurant will be once again be serving ‘Simple Family Suppers’ 5.30pm - 7.30pm, and booking is highly recommended to avoid disappointment. The Rosemoor Shop & Plant Centre will also remain open for late night shopping on these nights and will be a magical place to go for all those Christmas decorations, gift and plant ideas, including for the first time, potted and freshly cut Christmas Trees.

 Rosemoor is also holding an exclusive Preview Evening on Friday 10 November from 6pm. Be the first to experience the illuminations. Ticket holders will be welcomed with canapés and mulled wine at the Shepherd’s Rest before having their exclusive preview of the winter illuminations and sculpture Exhibition. The evening continues with a delicious three-course dinner in the Garden Room accompanied by live music until late. Information and tickets available online or by phoning 01805 626810.

 A wonderful festive atmosphere will be created on some of the evenings with Christmas Food, Craft and Antique Fairs; and on two weekends in December, the very popular Entertainingly Different will be performing ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ in their own inimitable style with songs, stories, poems and dancing. Tickets to these are free but limited and online booking is strongly recommended.

 The final day of the illuminations, Saturday 6 January, Rosemoor’s Garden Room events building will be the location for a special Quantum Theatre production of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Information and details on limited ticket prices, together with a booking link are available on line at rhs.org.uk/rosemoor.

 During the same period, Rosemoor’s extremely popular annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition where each year over 33,000 visitors enjoy the eclectic mix of exhibits set against the backdrop of the garden. Some of these will be lit up by the illuminations too to make them extra special. Most of the sculptures in the exhibition are for sale.

 To make the most of a winter visit to Rosemoor there is a wonderful winter walk and trail taking in much of the surprising amounts of colour, scent, texture and structure including dogwoods, ornamental grasses and some of our national collection of hollies, as well as the sculptures set amongst the shrubs.

 For more information on events at RHS Garden Rosemoor visit www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor Normal garden admission applies (free for RHS members). Garden open every day (except Christmas Day) 10am – 5pm.

Two Hearts join to Raise Money for Southampton’s Heart Patients

Self-confessed veg nerds, Riverford Organic Farmers, organised a charity trip to the heart of Riverford in Devon on 3rd October.
50 people set off from Southampton & Poole in aid of Wessex Heartbeat, to experience a culinary day in the hands of Riverford, at their main Buckfastleigh Farm in Devon.
The day consisted of; a bread making tutorial introducing ‘Peggy’ to the group. Peggy is the farm’s 15 year old sour dough, the guests were able to take some to recreate sour dough at home; a tour of the farm’s poly-tunnels with Penny, Riverford’s Head Gardener asking questions around organic farming and what natural pests help with the production of the farm’s wonderful seasonal veg and fruit, then finished with a 3 course lunch in Riverford’s Field Kitchen.
Tina Richardson, from Wessex Heartbeat said ‘It was an amazing opportunity to travel to Devon and see the farm in all its autumn glory. The food was totally amazing. Riverford very much support our ethos of long-term self-prevention of heart disease and related problems by simply eating well and looking after yourself’.
The day raised over £500 for the charity.
Wessex Heartbeat have joined Riverford’s Veg Fund, so those who chose to order a box can quote VEGFUND 7 at the checkout and Wessex Heartbeat will receive £15 per household upon delivery of the 3rd box.
To find out more about future events please visit: www.riverford.co.uk or www.heartbeat.co.uk

Highbullen Hotel Raises £1,160 for Macmillan Cancer Research

I am delighted to share the below news with you following a successful fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Research in North Devon on Friday 29 September.
The team at Highbullen Hotel, Golf and Country Club, part of the Bespoke Hotels collection, took part in a special 'Cake Off' competition at the leisure club to help raise funds for the charity.
With an array of delicious cakes on display, the hotel managed to raise £580 on the day which was then matched pound for pound by Mr Chapman, the owner of Highbullen Hotel raising a total of £1,160.
Amongst the winners were Linda Leach with her delicious mint chocolate cake and Annaliitta Damms winning second place for her floral muffins.
I have included further information below on Highbullen Hotel, Golf and Country Club.
Please do let me know if you require any further information or high-res images for news features this week.

The Glamping Show Stamps Its Mark

Having now closed the doors on its third-year outing, it is clear the Glamping show has really stamped its mark on the glamping sector, not just in the UK but worldwide.  The 3-day event welcomed suppliers and visitors alike from all corners of the globe as far afield as New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.  Doubling in size since its inception in 2015, this year’s event welcomed over 100 exhibitors showcasing all types of different structures, accessories and services.  In fact, everything you need to set-up and run a successful glamping business. 

Wayne Clark, from The Septic Tank Store had this to say: “Thursday, the first day of the Glamping Show, was the best day we have ever had at any trade show!”

Galvin Broughton, from ASTECtherm, added: “It’s been breathtakingly amazing.  The picture in my head about how good it was going to be was great but then times that by 100 and that’s how good the glamping show has been.”

It was a bit of a soggy start to the show this year but the rain did nothing to deter well over 1,000 visitors on the first day coming through the doors to see what the glamping show had to offer this year followed by many more on days two and three.

New glamping operators visiting the show from the Wye Valley commented: “Our overall impression of the show is really good, there is such a range of different ideas and prices here that we are spoilt for choice.  We want to keep our business simple and we have seen several ways that we can achieve that here at the Show.”

In addition to the increased size of the show, the organisers unveiled three new visitor innovations this year; Meet the Experts, Top & Tail Workshops and Design & Styling Demonstrations.

‘Meet the Experts’, sponsored by Success Matters, hosted fifteen sector experts who conducted 20-minute one-to-one meetings with visitors, who wanted to get a better understanding or insight into a particular business challenge.  The experts covered a range of topics from social media and marketing through business planning and setting up a glamping site to insurance and planning.  The visitor feedback on this new innovation was exceptional, with virtually everyone who took a meeting giving it a 10 out of 10 and saying that they would like to see it run as a regular feature.  They all felt it added value to their visit and injected another level to the show. 

Also new to the Glamping Show this year were the top and tail workshops hosted by glamping consultant, Kate Morel, and aimed at new business owners who were looking to get the most out of their trip to the Glamping Show.  For the first hour of the show Kate helped 20 delegates to identify what their business objectives were and then set an itinerary for the day, providing a debrief session at the end of the day to consolidate learnings.  Again, these workshops were very well received by all who attended, giving delegates a real focus for their visit to the Glamping Show.

Saturday saw yet another new feature to the show when Nikkita Palmer Designs ran a series of design and styling demonstrations throughout the day.  For those visitors who were looking to enhance or put the finishing touches to their glamping offering, Nikkita provided some exceptional insight and knowledge in to how to create stylish interior themes to project the perfect image.

The seminar programme, which presented a wide variety of topics that applied to both new and established glamping operators, was as popular as ever with many presentations having standing room only.  However, the new floor layout with the seminar theatres situated in an open plan design in each corner of the exhibition hall made them much more accessible and an integrated part of the show adding to the superb atmosphere of the show.

Sarah Orchard, of Orchard Associates, commented: "I felt the show had really moved up a gear this year; it was fantastic; not only from a marketing professional's point of view but also that of a future glamping site owner.  Speaking to visitors who attended my seminars and ‘Meet the Experts’ sessions, I found a lot of people had returned to the show after attending last year and the year before, some of whom are well established site owners, as they still found the show added value to their businesses.  One gentleman I spoke to has run an established glamping site for the last four years but still spent two days at the Glamping Show this year to make sure he got around everything.  Now that is testament to how good the show is and the value it provides for its visitors."

TV presenter and Upcycler, Max McMurdo of Find it, Fix it, Flog it and Shed of the Year fame, was once again in attendance, presenting seminars over two days of the show to captivated audiences talking about upcycled design and how to make the most of small spaces.  On walking around the show in between times he marvelled at how the show has grown in breadth and diversity as well as size compared with what was on offer just this time last year.

Max commented: “I got to the end of the first day at the Glamping Show and I was shattered.  It’s twice as big as last year and nobody told me!  I spoke to so many exhibitors and picked up leaflets on everything from solar panels and battery packs to yurts, tents and wooden structures.  This show is awesome!”

Well that says it all; see you again next year!

Want to grow Your Own? Become an Allotment Graduate at RHS Garden Rosemoor

RHS Garden Rosemoor, in Great Torrington, is once again looking for 10 keen gardeners to take part in their informative and practical allotment course in 2018.

Starting in February, the successful candidates will receive expert RHS tuition, have their own plot to tend, and take away home-grown harvests. They will receive regular allotment master classes and weekly access to their plots, all in the picturesque setting of RHS Garden Rosemoor.

Pete Adams, course leader at RHS Garden Rosemoor, said: “Our allotment course has grown from strength to strength over the past four years, and once again we are excited to welcome new novice vegetable growers to join us to learn from our expert team. We offer brilliant facilities, all the equipment and the know-how for a successful year of vegetable growing. So why not apply to join us for the 2018 course!”

The course, which attracts a small fee (to cover safety boots and a contribution towards materials) is open to everyone and the 2017 intake came from a great variety of backgrounds and across all age groups but they all have one thing in common – the passion for and a willingness to learn the basic principles of growing your own vegetables. The hope is to see a similar diverse group of people apply this year too.

Comments from last year’s graduates:

“Thank you Pete, it’s been a blast! I’ve had so much fun and learnt lots” – Julie

“What a wonderful experience. Thank you Peter for all your hard work and advice. This opportunity to learn gardening skills is so valuable” – Dan

“Thanks Pete. Working the allotment has made me realise that with the right knowledge and well worked soil I can grow great veg. I’ve found the experience just so rewarding and great fun with great people.” – Steve

The course will start in February 2018 and run through to the end of the year. Applications close 28 November 2017. To apply, please write to Curator Jon Webster with a brief personal background (approx. 50 words), stating why you would like a beginners vegetable plot at Rosemoor (approx.. 50 words), and indicating what you will do with your new knowledge (approx. 100 words). By post: Jon Webster, RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington Devon EX38 8PH. By email: jonathanwebster@rhs.org.uk.

For further information please visit www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor

Eat with the seasons with Riverford this British Food Fortnight

Organic farmers and veg box pioneers, Riverford, know a thing or two about growing and cooking with the seasons, but their 100% UK veg box epitomises seasonal eating and showcases British veg right at its peak.
So this British Food Fortnight 23 September – 8 October if you want a helping hand to get your creative veg juices flowing, a Riverford UK veg box could be the place to start.  
From freshly picked beans and greens in summer, to the sweetcorn and squash of autumn through to earthy roots and brassicas in winter, the box is packed with a changing selection of 8 homegrown veg, which is then delivered to customers’ doors for free.
Farmer Guy Watson founded Riverford in 1987 and explained: “We like to think of the box as the next best thing to growing your own. It’s like having an allotment, without the digging.”
Although Riverford’s complete range of veg boxes are packed with organic, seasonal vegetables grown on their four UK farms, the boxes are often topped up with items like peppers and tomatoes from their French farm and their Spanish growers. For Riverford to grow peppers and tomatoes out of season they would have to use heated greenhouses, which have more than 6 times the carbon footprint and go against Riverford’s environmentally friendly ethos.  
The decision for a UK only box came after popular demand by customers and hardcore seasonal eaters.
Guy continues, “Nowadays it’s easy for consumers to lose touch with seasonality, due to the year-round supply in supermarkets. Our customers really enjoy experiencing seasonal eating and cooking with veg when it’s at its best. The boxes give them a connection with the food they eat; they know where it’s from, who grew it and that they are supporting British farmers at the same time.”
Riverford also deliver a range of fruit, salad, meat and recipe boxes, alongside dairy, bread and more. They never air freight anything, and when they can’t grow it, they work with small scale family farmers overseas they know and trust who can.
To browse Riverford’s range visit: www.riverford.co.uk


Puxton Park is making use of the area that used to house Pet’s Village before it moved to the Animal Discovery Barn. With summer sun upon us, it seemed relevant to move some more water based activities right into the centre of the Park. Two pools have been set up, one which will have new 'Peddlerz' pedalo boats and another set up for our existing 'Water Walkerz' inflatable orbs. Not only will these be safe, but fun for children between 3-12 years of age. The new pools will be open from Saturday 29th July and the cost is included in the price of entry to the Park.

How to bee-friendly this summer!

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts’ Bee Creative in the Garden! campaign is in full swing this summer and has had a fantastic response by gardeners who are creating havens for wild bees across the UK. New polls reveal how people would most like to help wild bees - planting foxgloves and letting your lawn grow long were the stand-out favourites. We asked*:

Which of these bee-friendly plants would you most like to plant in your garden? (752 votes)

47%  Foxglove
25%  Sunflower
16%  Borage
12%  Single dahlias

Which of these actions are you most likely to do to help wild bees? (342 votes)


60%  Let your lawn grow long
35%  Make a bee home
5%    Dig a pond

Bee Creative in the Garden supporter

 Monty Don says:

“British gardeners can actively nurture and conserve the wild bee population. Gardens are always a rich source of food for wild bees and with a little care can be made even better for them without any trouble or loss of pleasure to the gardener. You do not need rare or tricky plants. In fact the opposite is true. Bees need pollen and the smaller flowers of unhybridised species are likely to be a much richer source than huge show blooms on plants that are the result of elaborate breeding. Any flower that is open and simple, such as members of the daisy family, or any that are set like a lollipop on a stick, such as scabious, and all members of the thistle family, are ideal for attracting honey bees, which have rather short tongues so need easy access. Bumblebees have longer tongues so are better adapted for plants that have more of a funnel shape, such as foxgloves.”

 Go wild for these bees this August!

Late summer is an excellent time to look for wild bees, including some more unusual species and recent arrivals to the UK:  

·       All species of bumblebee are active at this time of year. Towards the end of the season (Aug – Sept) bumblebee nests start producing males and new queens.  Queens are usually significantly larger than the worker females, and may linger at the nest initially but will eventually mate and then forage to build up their body fat in preparation for hibernation over winter.

·       Common Colletes (Colletes succinctus) – a striking looking solitary bee that uses heather as its principal pollen source.

·       Harebell Carpenter Bee (Chelostoma campanularum) – this tiny black bee collects pollen from garden species of bellflower. You can also help them by leaving dead wood with holes in for nesting and by making a bee hotel from dried reed stems.

·       The Common Furrow Bee (Lasioglossum calceatum) is around for most of the year. In August both males and females may be found on a wide variety of garden flowers.

·       Leaf-cutter bees are active until the end of August and you can sometimes see distinctive circular and oval shapes that the female bee cuts out of leaves, particularly roses. She carries the leaf pieces back to the nest site, gluing them together with sticky saliva to create a cigar-shaped nest to lay eggs in. Nest sites can include cavities in brickwork and rotting wood in addition to pipes, pots and old bags of compost. 

·       A relatively recent arrival to the UK is the Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae). Not everyone will have seen the species but its range is increasing rapidly. This bee is active in the autumn months and gathers pollen almost entirely from ivy flowers, the latest flowering native plant. Bees nest by burrowing into the soil and small piles of the excavated soil can sometimes be seen in large numbers on lawns.

For more information about these bees, please see the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society website www.bwars.com/

Take action for wild bees this summer!

  • Check on your bee hotel to see how many are in use (the holes will be capped off with mud, leaves or resin).
  • Put out shallow dishes of water, filled with pebbles, to provide easy drinking places for thirsty bees, chiefly honey bees.
  • Bee friendly plants for August – single flowered dahlias, cosmos, globe thistle (Echinops), Agastache foeniculum, hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), heather (Calluna vulgaris), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), ivy (Hedera helix).
  • For more inspiration on Summer flowering plants that are good for bees see the BWARS website list here.

Enter our ‘Bee Creative’ photo competition or download a wild bee-friendly gardening guide which contains lots of facts about the different species of wild bee, their lifecycles and how they nest, as well as practical steps gardeners can take to help them! All at wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk 

The wild bee-friendly gardening guide, ‘Get your garden buzzing for bees’, is free to download and contains lots of facts about the different species of wild bee, their lifecycles and how they nest, as well as practical steps gardeners can take to help them.  It is available to download at wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk.

Enter our Bee Creative photo competition! Gardeners, gardening groups and schools are encouraged to share how they’ve welcomed wild bees into their gardens by posting a picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – using the hashtag #wildaboutgardens and the category being entered – of their bee-friendly area, whether that be a tailor-made bee home, a flower-packed border or a wall that bees have made their own. 

A list of the wildlife gardening events taking place can be found at wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk – please note that more will be added as the season progresses.

The Famous Five the inspiration for a Summer of Adventure at RHS Garden Rosemoor

2017 marks 75 years since the first book was published in Enid Blyton’s best-loved series The Famous Five. To celebrate the occasion the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has teamed up with Enid Blyton Entertainment and Hodder Children’s Books to offer a range of exciting events and activities across the four RHS Gardens this summer.

At RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon, there will be a lively program of events and activities inspired by The Famous Five’s values – friendship, heroism, adventure, outdoors and daring. There are ‘Five Go on a Garden Adventure’ trails, and a delightful exhibition of Enid Blyton memorabilia, drop-in family craft workshops every weekday and Rosemoor is holding a mass picnic party on 11 August to celebrate Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday.

For children across the generations, Enid Blyton has inspired a love for flowers, plants, gardens and the outdoors through her descriptive powers, and particularly through the adventures of her five famous characters, Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog. From camping on hillsides to exploring streams, from enjoying tasty picnics to discovering caves, many of The Famous Five’s adventures are firmly rooted in the great outdoors.

Enid had an abiding love and deep knowledge of flora and fauna. She wrote to friends of her pleasure at creating her first garden at Elfin Cottage, Beckenham, which included a wild, raised garden in one corner, shrubs and beds of old-fashioned flowers such as lupins, pansies, hollyhocks and roses, an area for fruit and vegetables and a round pond for waterlilies. Inspired by this, lovely descriptions of trees, flowers and birdsong occur even in the midst of her 21 The Famous Five adventures.

It was only at the start of the 1950s that publishers Hodder & Stoughton first used the term The Famous Five and, within a year or two, they had sold more than six million copies. Enid Blyton had only planned to write a handful, but sales were so strong that she went on to pen 21 Famous Five novels, with more than two million copies continuing to sell each year

The RHS’s Liz Thwaite, said: ‘People’s love of gardens and gardening often starts when they are children – running, laughing and playing in them, exploring winding paths, going for country walks and discovering the wonders of plants and wildlife. We hope that this summer will create many new happy memories for children, inspired by our gardens and Enid Blyton’s wonderful adventure books.’

The adventure trail at Rosemoor will encourage children to help The Famous Five find Uncle Quentin, who has gone missing on a horticultural research mission. In addition to the trail, exhibition and craft activities there is a whole raft of other events taking place throughout the Summer Holidays.


All activities, with the exception of Outdoor Theatre, are included with normal garden admission, which is Free for RHS Members. For more information and to book garden admission tickets please visit www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor.


Farmers & Rural Business Owners 74% More Likely to Diversify Due to Brexit

Diversity is the future of farming. More and more farms are looking at branching out into more than one area to establish multiple streams of income which will allow business to remain resilient in times where subsidies are falling and trade deals with the EU are up in the air. A recent study by Farm Business Innovation revealed that out of almost 300 farmers and rural business owners polled, over 74% are more likely to diversify their land in response to Brexit, and this number is only going to grow as the realities of the current economic climate sink in. Dairy farms are keeping bees, arable farmers are growing miscanthus in areas with poor soil and installing solar panels, sheep farmers are opening livery stables. It’s not just farms either, all kinds of rural businesses are expanding their revenue streams. Landowners are opening glamping sites, estates are hosting rock concerts, large country houses are opening their doors as filming venues. The examples and opportunities are endless!

 With the current uncertainty of how Brexit will play out for farmers and rural communities, rural business owners are quickly realising that diversification is the best was to remain stable and increase profits. Diversification as a movement is increasing at such a rate that The Farm Business Innovation Show which runs November 8th & 9th at the NEC in Birmingham sold out the entire floor plan with six months to go until the show! The Event Director has had to increase the floor plan by taking an extra hall at the NEC to keep up with the demand, and with over 9,000 rural business owners attending the event, the additional stand space won’t last long.

 While there is no denying that the world of farming is at a crossroads, this can either be seen as a problem or an opportunity. Being able to blend the old and the new, tradition and innovation are a huge part of what makes the UK such an amazing place and with rural enterprise at the backbone of the country, there is no reason that farming and rural business should not do the same. Many farmers are turning just one field into something like a go kart track or paintball battlefield and turning enough profit from that to keep the rest of the traditional farm going.

 If you are looking to diversify your farm or rural business, then you should be at the Farm Business Innovation Show. Tickets for this amazing event are free and allow you access to the sister shows, Country House Business Innovation, Family Attraction Expo, and Holiday Park & Resort Innovation. You can register via www.farmbusinessshow.co.uk

 If you are interested in exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities, contact Event Director Gary Hall on 0117 929 6087 or gary.hall@prysmgroup.co.uk.

Trustee wanted - Niche Wildlife Conservation Charity

The Vincent Wildlife Trust is a charity that has been at the forefront of techniques for wildlife conservation for over 40 years. Our specific niche is the smaller native mammals providing scientifically sound, practical solutions to conservation problems. Our work to date, has focused on the needs of British and Irish mammals, mostly mustelids (the weasel family) and the rarer bats.

The Trust is at an exciting crossroads in its development. Since 2008, strategically important partnerships have been secured and new flagship projects embarked upon, including the UK’s nationally important pine marten recovery project.

Due to the upcoming retirement of a long-standing trustee, a vacancy has arisen on the Board. We need someone to complement the skills and experiences of the existing trustees and move the VWT through a new period of growth.

We are looking for a person who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about species conservation, especially those at risk in Europe, perhaps someone who is developing their career in this sector. Preference will be given to those who are developing their network or already have good connections, can bring new perspectives and navigate the Trust through the challenges ahead.

For further information please email:
Natalie Buttriss (Chief Executive) at nataliebuttriss@vwt.org.uk or call 01531 636441


Award Winning Cheddar Stolen – Reward Offered for Information

Bruton, Somerset- based Wyke Farms were announced as ‘Best in Show’ this weekend at the Yeovil Show as the judges crowned their vintage cheddars as Champion and Reserve Champion (Class 205).

Unfortunately, later that evening after the judging had taken place the two blocks of cheddar, weighing 20kg each, were stolen from the cheese tent on site. The Clothier family at Wyke Farms are saddened but not too surprised by the news: “our vintage cheddar is made to Grandmother Ivy’s recipe and we believe it to be the best quality cheese available, a 20kg block of it is extremely tempting!” said Rich Clothier, 3rd generation family member and managing director at Wyke Farms.  The company are offering a £500 reward for any information that leads to the recovery of the cheese or the arrest of the thief. If you have any information please call 01749 812 424 or e-mail info@wykefarms.com


A hive of activity from charities, businesses, schools and communities across the country is taking place to celebrate this year’s Bees’ Needs Week (17-23 July), which encourages Brits to take simple steps to help protect our vital pollinators.
Bees, butterflies and other insects play a crucial role in our environment, and with 1,500 species of insects pollinating crops in the UK, they also contribute an estimated £600m to our economy.
But many struggle to find the habitats and food they need. By thinking about bees’ needs and taking simple actions to meet them, people across the UK can help give bees and pollinators the food and shelter they need to survive.  
Minister for Pollinators and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner, today hailed the successes of businesses and communities taking action to help our bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects and encouraged everyone across the country to join in, saying:
“Bees and other pollinators are not just a well-loved part of our cities, towns, villages and countryside—they are vital workers, driving our economy and boosting biodiversity. Each of us can do our bit to help them flourish.
“Bees’ Needs Week is all about celebrating those across the nation who work throughout the year to help our pollinators, and encouraging more people of all ages to join in by taking simple actions such as planting bee-friendly flowers in a window box, letting your garden grow wild or not disturbing insect nests.
“Bees’ Needs champions from across the country continue to do an excellent job and demonstrate just how we can all work together and do our bit to help our bees.”
Bees’ Needs Week forms a key part of Defra’s wider National Pollinator Strategy, launched in 2014 in partnership with charities, businesses and academic institutions. It encourages people to take five simple actions to help pollinators:
-       grow more flowers, shrubs and trees

-       let your garden grow wild

-       cut grass less often

-       don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots

-       think carefully about whether to use pesticides

 Supporting Bees’ Needs week for a third year, the Wildlife Trusts’ Director for England Steve Trotter said:
“The Wildlife Trusts believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy of wildlife in their daily lives and bees are a fantastic way to make a start!
“By understanding more about what bees need to survive we can help our precious bees to thrive.”
Tim Lovett, Director of Communications at the British Beekeepers Association, said:
"People need to do three things to help honeybees and pollinators - Plant! Plant! Plant! They need simple flowers that will provide a good source of nectar and pollen throughout the summer."
Bees’ Needs Week runs from 17-23 July in partnership with organisations including Friends of the Earth, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
•       For more information on Bees’ Needs Week, events, and how you can get involved, visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/bees-needs.

•       Follow #BeesNeeds on twitter to find out more about the campaign and tweet your pollinator questions to charities, businesses and bee experts.

•       1,500 species of insects pollinate plants in the UK, including bumble bees, honey bees, solitary bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths.

•       25 species of bumble bee, 260 species of solitary bee, 1 honey bee species and hundreds of types of hoverflies, butterflies and moths live in the UK.

•       70 of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of food worldwide are pollinated by bees.

•       £600m is the estimated value of insect pollination to crops due to increases in yield and quality of seeds and fruit.

•       5 simple actions the UK public can take to protect our vital pollinators: grow more flowers, shrubs and trees; leave patches of land to grow wild; cut grass less often; don't disturb insect nests and hibernation spots; and think carefully about using pesticides.


New product and new manager for off mains toilet company NatSol

NatSol recently supplied the second of a new waterless toilet system called the Zero Discharge to Hetland Garden Centre in Dumfries and Galloway. The first ZD toilet block to be supplied with this product was in the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, London and it won the Best Eco Toilet category in the Loo of the Year Awards, 2016.

The design was specially developed by NatSol for the Richmond site but looks set to become popular for other busy remote sites around the UK where mains drainage is not available or discharge of liquids to ground not possible.

The company had another development this year in the appointment of Ellen Hughes to the post of General Manager following Chris Frost’s retirement after 11 years. 

Ellen Hughes has been Assistant Manager for around 8 years and is well versed in the suitability of the different NatSol toilets for different site types and user levels.

NatSol currently offers three main products: the best selling Full Access Composter which has been installed on hundreds of sites around the UK and is suitable for allotments, churches, golf clubs and other medium use sites; the Compact which is a great solution for that summerhouse down the garden where the family stay when visiting; and the new Zero Discharge described above.

NatSol is happy to discuss your requirements without obligation and will not hassle you with marketing calls or materials.  

Ellen can be contacted directly on ellen@natsol.co.uk, or by calling 01686 412653.

Step back in time at RHS Garden Rosemoor’s Vintage Weekend 22 - 23 July

RHS Garden Rosemoor goes back in time during the weekend 22 - 23 July with two days packed with all things retro, vintage and antique.

Visitors to the stunning 65 acre gardens in Devon, with its formal gardens, woodland walks, stream and lake, walled fruit & vegetable garden, and fully licensed restaurant, will also be in for a real treat with a display of vintage vehicles, motorbikes from North Devon British Motorcycle Owners Club and vintage caravans.

New for 2017, we will have a World War II re-enactment from the 4th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry including: Queen Alexander nursing, an air raid precaution, The Land Army, The Home Guard, The Auxillary Territorial Service and para troopers. Continuing the 1940’s theme on Saturday afternoon we have special guest Sandy Sparkle from Torquay doing a series of 30 minute sets of typical songs from the era.

The Vintage Horticultural & Garden Machinery Club will once again have a presence. This national organisation with over 900 members was formed to promote an active interest in the preservation, exhibiting and operation of vintage equipment used in horticulture, allotment keeping and home gardening. Some of their vintage farm and horticultural equipment will be shown operating during the weekend.

In addition, in the new Garden Room, our permanent events building, there will be an Antique and Collectors Fair, organised by Devon County Antiques Fairs with stalls and sellers from across the South West featuring an eclectic selection of quality antiques and collectables of all sorts - vintage fabrics, ceramics, furniture and perfume bottles as well as silver and glass.

For more information on events at RHS Garden Rosemoor visit www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor or telephone 01805 624067 Normal garden admission applies (free for RHS members)


Wyke Farms: Tom’s Toastie Kitchen at Glastonbury

Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent Cheese makers and producers of renewable energy, today announces ‘Tom’s Toasties’ – its mobile kitchen offering ‘toasties’ made with their award winning farmhouse cheddar –  will be open for business at this year’s Glastonbury Festival (21st-25th June 2017).

Named after Grandfather Tom Clothier, the trailer sells toasties made using the award- winning Wyke Farms Extra Mature Cheddar, crafted from the family’s 155-year-old recipe. The cheese is left undisturbed for around 12 months to develop a full and rounded flavour, graded by the Master Cheese Grader, and then sliced and added to the deliciously mouth-watering toasties.

This year we have two new specials:

Mushy peas and Extra Mature Cheddar
Monterey Jack, Chocolate Spread, and Marshmallows.  
All toastie combinations are vegetarian, and customers can pick fillings they like from a selection of fillings.

We are offering media attending Glastonbury Festival a FREE toastie. Please get in touch to let us have your details and we’ll add you to the list. Contact: Paloma@connectedpr.com

For more information please visit Twitter @wykefarms #TomsToasties or www.wykefarms.com

Wyke Farms has been producing its award-winning cheddar for over a century and has grown to become one of the largest family-owned cheese makers in Britain selling over 15,000 tonnes annually.  Wyke Farms have over 155 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.

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

Tom’s Toastie Kitchen can be found at Green Kidz Field next to the globe and opposite the Pirate Ship.

Nominations now open for local awards celebrating community projects

The countdown to the Acland Awards 2017 has begun and the search is on to find wildlife, environment and heritage projects that are making a difference in your area.
Each year the Acland Award, presented by the East Devon AONB Partnership, offers the chance to celebrate the achievements of projects across East Devon and recognise the individuals, groups and businesses involved in their success.
Last year's winner, Trill Farm, (see photo links below) received the popular award for their ‘Outstanding Contribution to East Devon Food and Drink’ and were commended for their education programme and organic enterprises based on the farm; including beef and sheep raising, horticulture and cookery.
This year, the award theme will celebrate the actions of individuals or organisations that have achieved good things for the wildlife, environment or heritage of the AONB. Members of the public are invited to nominate anyone who they think deserves special recognition – organisations or individual projects are also encouraged to share their own stories by nominating themselves.
Chris Woodruff, AONB Manager, commented:
"Trill Farm were our Acland Award winners last year and their good work continues to go from strength to strength. Now, for 2017, the Acland Award will provide an opportunity to recognise and celebrate achievements with a different focus".
"There are many projects, large and small, across East Devon that play a vital role in local communities and our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as a whole".
"I urge members of the public to get involved and nominate initiatives or individuals they think have made an important contribution to wildlife, the environment or heritage for an this award".
Anyone interested in nominating a project or individual for the Acland Award should visit the AONB website www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk or contact the AONB team for more details on 01404 46663/ info@eastdevonaonb.org.uk The deadline for applications is 13 August 2017.
The award presentation will take place on 27 September 2017, as part of the AONB Annual Meeting evening event.

Thousands sign up for UK nature challenge 30 Days Wild

We’re on Day 13 of the 30 Days Wild challenge and wanted to let you know nearly 50,000 people across the UK have signed up to take part in a random act of wildness every day throughout June.

 Take a look at 30 Days Wild#30DaysWild @30DaysWild and see how daily connections with nature are inspiring people to enjoy the wild world around them wherever they live.Thousands of wonderful experiences are being shared on social media- like Ange Lee’s lovely idea of posting packets of wildflower seeds through neighbours’ letterboxes here; Tom Smallwood and his 5 year olddaughter Emma, are doing A Wild Alphabet,here and posting videos about their adventures. Thirteen year old Dara McAnulty and his family have been climbing trees to another world.

Among those supporting the 30 Days Wild challenge this year are:

Amy Williams MBE, Olympic Gold Medallist, TV presenter and public speaker, who says:

“I have always been passionate about wildlife and looking after the world we live in. I’ve been lucky to go on some amazing wild adventures all around the world, but my love of nature began at home. Some of the greatest adventures happen in your everyday life. 30 Days Wild is perfect for me; it combines my love of being outdoors and staying active with my creative side, too. I can’t wait to get involved!”

Ellie Harrison, presenter of Countryfile and President of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, says:

“Children are skilled at playing in nature.  But they’re even better at it when adults are doing it too: it’s an approval that it’s worth doing.  But perhaps most importantly of all, by watching adults enjoying themselves they too will learn how to have fun.  Pledge random acts of wildness every day this June and join us in 30 Days Wild!’

Dr Alice Roberts, Academic, writer and broadcaster, says:

“Getting out in the natural world is good for the mind and body. And it's not just for the weekend – it should be every single day. Immerse yourself in nature this June with 30 Days Wild!"

Levison Wood, Explorer, writer and photographer, says:

"It's so important that interest in nature begins from an early age. Projects like 30 Days Wild are crucial in doing so and wish it every success."

30 Days Wild school packs are helping teachers turn lessons 'wild' in 5,847 schools and nearly 1,500 businesses have signed up, making nature part of life at work. Lots of people are blogging about their experiences throughout the month. The national challenge which launched on June 1st, wasreported by BBC Breakfast’s weather presenter Carol Kirkwood from London’s hidden gem, Camley Street Natural Park

The impact of taking part in 30 Days Wild has been tracked by academics at the University of Derby. Their study found that people who did something ‘wild’ each day for a month, felt happier, healthier and more connected to nature, with added benefits for the natural world too.

Dr Miles Richardson, University of Derby’s Director of Psychology, who led the study said:  

“The impact of 30 Days Wild adds to the compelling argument for bringing nature into our everyday lives. Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of people who reported their health as excellent. Last year’s results also show people’s happiness continued to improve after 30 Days Wild ended, which illustrates its sustained impact. This is important as it is happiness and connecting with nature that influence improvements in health.  Our study also shows that those who benefitted most were younger adults and those who weren’t ‘nature lovers’.”