Rural Hub News

All the news about the Warwickshire Rural Hub Hub Business SupportersFree Membership

Forsyth Lapwing Trophy for 2019 is launched

to reward a Warwickshire farmer for conservation activity

Are you a farmer in Warwickshire who has undertaken conservation of wildlife alongside your commercial agricultural activities?  We are looking for entrants to the Forsyth Lapwing Award for 2019 which recognises farmers who have integrated environmental measures with farming operations.  The award is sponsored by Syngenta who will be heading the judging panel and providing the winner with a voucher for its seed mixes.  The winner also retains the Forsyth Lapwing Trophy for one year.

The closing date for the competition is 7 May 2019 and short-listed farms will be expected to host a two-hour visit from the judges during the final week of May.  The winner will be announced at the Syngenta barbeque and crop trials event in Chesterton on the evening of 1 July.  

This year we have simplified the entry form, so download your copy below and send your entry to Jane Hampson on by 7 May.

Forsyth Trophy 2019 Application Form



Nineteen bird species identified

on dawn chorus walk in Marton

Twenty three people got out of bed very early on 14 April to join our dawn chorus walk in Marton, organised in association with the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Dunsmore Living Landscape project.   Walk leader Ed Drewitt, an expert naturalist, identified 19 species of birds during sunrise including song thrush, blackcap, chiffchaff, great spotted woodpecker, Canada goose, wren and tawny owl.  On return to the farm buildings at 6.45am bacon butties and tea/coffee were served to warm everyone up from the sub-zero temperatures.

We would like to thank Miranda and Uli of Village Farm, Marton for hosting the walk, Ed Drewitt for acting as leader and Lucy from the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust for taking the bookings.  



How to encourage barn owls to your farm 

with the Stour Valley Barn Owl Project 

Two members from the Stour Valley Barn Owl Project joined a Warwickshire Wildlife Trust/Warwickshire Rural Hub event on 29 March to pass on tips about encouraging barn owls to farmland.

Attendees heard that barn owl numbers have been in decline since the 1800s due to a variety of reasons including persecution, a change in farming practices, road deaths and extreme weather conditions.  We then learned some Barn Owl facts and heard about their favoured habitats, food (field voles), their lifecycle and signs of occupation.  Finally the group went outside to view the best siting and construction for a barn owl box.

We would like to thank Roger and Gillian Browning for hosting the event, the Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group for providing two speakers and the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust for jointly promoting the event.

The Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Barn Owl Project has been selected by Tesco as one of their charities for in-store voting during May and June 2019.  You can vote for the project at the following stores:

Tesco Superstore Birmingham Rd, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 0UA

Tesco Express 37-39 Banbury Rd, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 7HW

Tesco Express 1-3, Hopkins Precinct, Kinwarton Rd, Alcester B49 6AA

If you visit one of these stores during May and June please consider supporting barn owls by placing a vote!

Drones fly over Newfields Farm

at Rural Hub event with Drone Ag

The benefits of using a drone over an arable field were demonstrated by Jack and Edwin from Drone Ag at a Rural Hub event held on Monday 11 March.  Kindly hosted by Richard and Reeve at Newfields Farm, Long Itchington members firstly heard all about the legalities of flying a drone before we saw one in action and then had the opportunity of taking over the controls ourselves.  The photos taken by the drone at different heights over the field and the information that this provided to the land manager were then reviewed.  Drone Ag has developed an app called Skippy Scout, to use with a drone, which is compatible with most smart ‘phones and we also heard about its development.  A fascinating event for anyone interested in new technology in farming.  


Farming, families and the future

Is it time to think differently?

This was the question posed to the members who attended our seminar on 5 March, held at Wright Hassall solicitors in Leamington Spa.   Jonathan Borsay from Clydesdale Bank opened proceedings by giving us an overview of the current economic situation and made some predictions for the future, post-Brexit.  We then heard from Phil Bicknell, who is Head of Market Intelligence at the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board.  Phil helped farmers prepare for change by giving details of the AHDB Brexit Impact Calculator, new trade opportunities and the key eight factors for top performing farms.   He urged farmers to adopt the glass half full approach and felt that exciting times were ahead.

After lunch, sponsored by AHDB, we heard from Joel Woolf of Wright Hassall, who advises estates and farmers in relation to strategic business planning including business continuity and succession issues.  Joel started by asking how many farmers in the room already had a business plan.  He then explained the importance of writing one and ran through the steps of how to get started.  Finally, Mark Dickin of Ellacotts accountants gave information on some of the tax savings that could be achieved by thinking differently and encouraging the next generation to become involved in the business.

We would like to thank all four high-profile speakers for sparing time out of their busy schedules to present at this important and enlightening event, Wright Hassall for hosting the event and AHDB for sponsoring the lunch.  


Rural Hub welcomes three new Business Supporters

to bring the number up to eleven

February 2019 saw the Rural Hub welcome three new business supporters.

Farm Services Ltd are specialist land drainage contractors who pride themselves in the service and expertise they offer to their customers in what is now the third generation of family ownership. is home to a unique number of home from homes which means they can offer thousands of personalised holiday properties in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland,  France and Italy.

And HG Heath & Sons is a family run business based in Shipston on Stour, Warwickshire. With years of experience in farming and agricultural contracting services, they can provide a range of services to suit your every requirement.

Full details on all of the companies and how they could support your business are available on our Business Supporter page.  

We would like to welcome all three companies to our Business Supporter family.   We look forward to working with you all.

Rural Hub members visit Bordon Hill nursery

to view begonias and bio-beds

Twenty Rural Hub members visited Bordon Hill nursery in Stratford upon Avon on 12 February 2019 to view high volume production of plant plugs for the horticultural industry.   We started the tour by viewing the mechanised planting of individual seeds into trays before they are covered with vermiculite.  The trays are then transferred to the appropriate glasshouses which are temperature and humidity controlled.  Beetles are bred in-house to control the aphids.  Once the plugs have grown in size they are transferred to larger trays before the final process of gapping up takes place.  The trays contain an additional 10 plugs to compensate for any breakage during transmission to the customer.  

The nursery has strong environmental credentials.  There is a million gallon rainwater reservoir which is cleaned by a biological filter.  The nursery tries to use water from the reservoir for most of the watering of plants, but during 2018 had to use additional water from the mains due to the dry conditions.  The run off from the nurseries is fed through reed beds which minimise nitrate and other nutrient loss into ground water.  All water used in the cleaning process for machinery is channelled into bio-beds where chemicals are broken down and rendered harmless by bacteria.  And the nursery recycles all of its paper, cardboard and plastic.

Feedback from attendees showed that the event was rated as excellent, with the plug production line technology being cited as being fascinating.  We would like to pass our thanks on to Malcolm Tanner of the nursery who organised the visit, led the tour and answered the many questions posed by attendees.  




Rural Hub attends Wright Hassall Christmas Talk

on 5 December 2018

How to keep your farm, finances, body and mind healthy was the topic at this year’s Christmas Agricultural Talk, organised by local solicitors, Wright Hassall – one of the Rural Hub’s business supporters.   

The speakers on this year’s platform were:

Farmer and “Countryfile” presenter, Adam Henson, from the Cotswold Farm Park

Holly Beckett, a local farmer from the Focussed Farmers Project

Joel Woolfe, a partner at Wright Hassall and a strategic business planning expert.

The Rural Hub had a stand at the event and after the talks Chairman, Henry Lucas and Co-ordinator, Jane Hampson, networked with the local businesses and farmers present to promote the Hub’s services and also met up with several members.

We would like to thank Wright Hassall for inviting us to mount a stand at their Christmas talk.




How do we meet the needs of people

without trashing the environment?

This was the question posted by David Gardner, ex Chief Executive of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, when he addressed an audience comprising members of the Rural Hub and Kenilworth and District Agricultural Society on the evening of 28 November.  

David’s presentation took the audience through the pressures being faced by the world as we try to feed an ever-growing population and create energy to keep us warm and fuel our vehicles.  David took us through the new technology being used in farming to produce food more efficiently and said that he felt positive about the ability of agriculture to rise to the challenges it was being presented with.  He then turned his attention to the pros and cons of different types of energy production and wondered how long we could all expect to own a car that spent a greater proportion of its time sitting on a driveway.

Following the presentation the audience engaged in a robust discussion on the issues raised and no doubt left for home with some ideas of how they could contribute to reducing our carbon footprint.







Establishing newly-planted broadleaved woodland

in the Heart of England Forest

Middle Spernal Farm near Alcester was the meeting point for our two-hour tour of newly-created broadleaved woodland held on 4 October 2018.  Hosted by the Heart of England Forest their Head Forrester, Stephen Coffey, was our guide for the afternoon walk around the estate.  We firstly visited a woodland planted in 2011 and heard how the charity is exploring different ways of reducing the use of plastic spirals and tree guards when planting saplings.    The management of weeds in the wood and the rides was discussed and we heard all about the Red List birds that had been spotted on the estate.   Stephen also explained that 2018 had been a challenging year for the establishment of trees due to the heat and drought conditions in June and July.   We then moved on to view some small leaved lime coppice and discuss its management before visiting two lakes that had been established.    After the tour one attendee fed back that “Stephen was very knowledgeable and a great host”.

We would like to thank Heart of England Forest and Stephen Coffey for hosting our visit.


Heart of England Forest hosts our second Ponds and Payment event

at Middle Spernal near Alcester

Heart of England Forest kindly hosted our second Ponds and Payments event on 5 September at Middle Spernal near Alcester.

The speakers for the event were David Lowe of Warwickshire County Council, Chris Farmer of the Environment Agency and Marion Perrett of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.  After hearing about where to site a pond, how to construct it, what to fill it with and how to manage a pond the attendees then undertook a site visit to three ponds on the Middle Spernal estate.

Bio-diversity offsetting funding is available from Warwickshire County Council which will cover all construction costs and management of a pond for up to 30 years.   Further information can be gained from David Cole.

We would also like thank Warwickshire County Council for funding the event, including the bacon baps!

If you were unable to attend one of our pond events and would like to see the presentations please contact Jane Hampson.

Ponds and Payments event

Hosted at Abbey Farm, Wolvey on 2 August 2018

Rural Hub members learned where to site a farm pond, how to construct it, what to fill it with and how to manage it when they attended our “Ponds and Payments” event at Abbey Farm in Wolvey, by kind permission of Jon and Sally Slee.

The speakers for the event were David Lowe of Warwickshire County Council, Chris Farmer of the Environment Agency and Tracey Doherty of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

After the presentations in the barn the attendees went to visit the farm pond for on-site advice.

David Lowe also disseminated information on the bio-diversity offsetting funding available from Warwickshire County Council which will cover all construction costs and management of the pond for up to 30 years.

We would like to thank Jon and Sally Slee for hosting the event and Warwickshire County Council for funding the event.


Hub members hear about the Golden Rules of Planning

from Rural Planning Consultant David Collier

On 9 July over 35 Rural Hub members heard Rural Planning expert David Collier gives his ten golden rules and one platinum rule to follow when submitting a rural planning application.   David encouraged members present to consider the permitted development rights, especially Class Q – agricultural to residential, and Class R – agricultural to “flexible uses”.    And he reminded the meeting that changing the use of land or a building to agricultural use is excluded from the definition of development.  At the end of his presentation David gave his platinum rule – planning is focused on achieving ‘sustainable development’ and as such it is concerned with balancing conflicting priorities, not ticking boxes to produce a predetermined outcome.  It is therefore different from building regulations, which are technical and less subjective.

Following David’s presentation there was a lengthy question and answer session and members reported that they had found their parish councils helpful with planning applications.

Finally, the meeting heard from a volunteer from the Warwickshire branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England on the proposed building developments across the county.

Feedback showed that members present felt the session was another very worthwhile event.


Rebecca Sunang-Joret wins Forsyth Lapwing Trophy for 2018

for conservation of wildlife alongside commercial activity

Rebecca Sunang-Joret of Hodnell Manor, Ladbroke near Southam has been announced as the winner of the 2018 Forsyth Lapwing Trophy.

The Award, sponsored by Syngenta, recognises conservation of wildlife alongside commercial agricultural operations.  Rebecca will retain the Forsyth Lapwing Trophy for one year and was also presented with a Syngenta voucher.

Tom Maynard of Hattons Farms Ltd was the runner-up in the Award.

Rebecca was presented with her trophy and voucher by south Warwickshire farmer, Anthony Forsyth, at a Syngenta crop event at Chesterton Farm on 2 July.


“The Hub helps to inspire its Members to do something different, to embrace change and learn from each other.”

Henry Lucas,
Warwickshire Rural Hub Chairman

Would you Like to

Donate to the Hub?

A donation to the Hub of any amount is always gratefully received. However, it is only donations of over £100 that can be acknowledged on the Hub website as a Champion.  A donation can be given to the Hub by cheque, bank payment, standing order or by the Paypal Link Below.

Contact Us

The Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC
c/o Pleasance Farm


Registration No: 7026157

Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA

Hub Chairman

Henry Lucas

Rural Hub Co-ordinator

Jane Hampson

Tel: 07780 159291

Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Henry Lucas (Hub Chairman)
Graham Collier (Hub Deputy Chairman)
Paul Rice
Carrie Robbins
Alexandra Robinson
James Walton


Hub Steering Group Members

Luke Ryder, NFU
Mark Dickin, Ellacotts Accountants
Susan Schlee, S2M Marketing
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
Mark Meadows, Tithe Farm
Alexandra Robinson, Wright Hassall LLP
Bob Slater, Slater Farm Management Services
Chris Tallis, Tallis Amos Group
Jef Tuyn, Agricultural Consultant
Matt Willmott, King's Seeds
Jon Slee, Abbey Farm


The Warwickshire Rural Hub accepts no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained on this website.

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