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.”
Warwickshire Rural Hub Chairman
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The Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC
c/o Pleasance Farm
Registration No: 7026157
Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA
Rural Hub Co-ordinator
Tel: 07780 159291
Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors
Henry Lucas (Hub Chairman)
Graham Collier (Hub Deputy Chairman)
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
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