News CRT sponsored the Three Counties Farming Awards Tim Scott presenting the 2019 awardFor the second year running, the Countryside Restoration Trust has sponsored a category at the Three Counties Farming Award run by Hereford Times. This year, the Farm Conservation Award celebrates farmers who proactively utilise sensitive and sympathetic farming practices to encourage, protect and conserve the species and habitats on their farmland whilst also producing quality food. The inaugural awards took place at a gala dinner on Thursday 13th June 2019, the eve of the Royal Three Counties Show in Malvern Show Ground, Worcestershire. CRT Farmer Tim Scott of Lark Rise Farm in Cambridgeshire represented the Trust awarding the ‘Sustainable & Diversification Farmer of the Year Award’ to Two Farmers Crisps (twofarmers.co.uk). Mr Scott stated “It was a great honour to represent the CRT as a Judge at the Three Counties Farming Awards. The standard of the entries was very high which made picking a winner very hard, but after much consideration the winner was The Two Farmers Limited with their artisan crisps in compostable packets.” Tim Scott Presenting 2020 award2020 Awards This year, due to the pandemic, the awards have taken a different approach. The evening was a Live broadcast event, held on Thursday 26th November, hosted by BBC's Countryfile presenter Adam Henson. It was a star-studded night as Henson was joined by an array of other celebrities including TV presenters, a ‘Strictly come Dancing’ judge, ‘Great British Bake-Off’ finalists, comedians, and sports stars. This year, there was a record number of entries especially for the CRT sponsored ‘Farm Conservation Award’. On the 15th Oct, the finalists for the Farm Conservation Award were announced as: Oxton Organics, James Hawkins, and Andrew Eastabrook. WATCH: Three Counties Farming Awards with a difference On the night, Oxton Organics were announced as the winner of the Farm Conservation Award 2020. Oxton Organics – Winner Oxton Organics were ecstatic to win! At one acre, this is a small outfit that boasts a regenerative farming technique earning Oxton Organics a place in the final shortlist for the Conservation Award. It is central to the organic fruit and veg business run by Jake Eldridge at Broadway Lane, Fladbury, Worcestershire. Out in the orchardThis small but diverse market garden uses compost mulch to build healthy soil and is zero-till. “In our vegetable production area our soil organic matter has increased by two per cent whilst providing sustainable employment for farmworkers without subsidy,” says Jake. This market garden grows an abundance of nutritious fruit and vegetables supplying direct to about 80 households every week through a box scheme, as well as to local restaurants and retailers. They also manage 11 acres for habitat creation. “All of our enterprises are designed in a way that builds soil, builds habitat and sequesters carbon,” added Jake, who recently planted more than 1,500 trees. James Hawkins James Hawkins James Hawkins has been working for 18 years with wildlife conservation at the core of his mixed farming system. His current focus is to create a wildflower grassland and diverse herbal leys on half of his farm to benefit wildlife and the health of his soil and livestock. Other projects include an orchard, pond, and hedgerow restoration. As chairman of Bromyard Downs Commoners Association, he is key to restoring the Downs where he has helped reintroduce grazing and encouraged many local volunteers to get involved as well as the chairmanship of Herefordshire Meadows, a discussion group of 60 farmers/smallholders. He does all this alongside producing quality beef and lamb, rapeseed oil, damson vinegar and much more. Andrew Eastabrook Andrew Eastabrook Looking after the past and training for the future is what they do at Hartpury College Farm giving 16-18-year olds and upwards get the chance to gain practical experience – all while running a tremendously efficient business. The college, on the outskirts of Gloucester, has a partnership with the Woodland Trust and seen more than 2,000 trees planted, including restoring a historic perry orchard and developing wetland woodland areas. They have also introduced environmental strips that are encouraging wildlife activity - predominantly birds and insects. They have strategically selected hedgerows that have been laid and they also have erected owl and bat boxes across the site. They have implemented Livestock Exclusion Zones in addition to the native breed sheep and cattle graze pastures.