AONB Presents Farming Awards at Monmouthshire Show

- Posted Tuesday 1 September 2015 by Nikki

The Wye Valley AONB presented its hotly contested Farming Awards to winners Herefordshire farmers Ann and Jim Herbert at the Monmouthshire Show on August 27, 2015.

Councillor Phil Cutter, Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee Chairman presented the Herberts with the first prize of £400, the Farming Awards Trophy and the winning certificate. The 240 acre Lewstone Farm based at Whitchurch , Herefordshire is well known for producing free range eggs for both the supermarkets and local outlets and has been recognised for high quality free range egg production, receiving the Egg Producer of the Year award from the British Free Range Egg Producers Association in 2013.

From an environmental perspective the farm has been in Higher Level Stewardship for the last 8 years and the introduction of a wildflower meadow and the planting of 300 trees have increased the farm’s biodiversity. However impressive though that is, it is the Herbert’s development of their educational facilities that won through against strong entries from a variety of farms in or adjacent to the Wye Valley AONB in Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire. Lewstone encourages school visits, primarily from south Herefordshire primary schools and have converted a barn into a fully equipped classroom. School parties from the wider areas of Ross on Wye, Monmouth and Stroud regularly visit. Currently the farm averages 30 to 40 school visits per year where children learn about how a working farm operates as well as environmental activities in woodland,  streams and marshland. In previous years Ann and Jim have accommodated up to 90 visits.

The Wye Valley AONB Farming Awards are now in their 8th year. Shortlisted farms were visited and judged by an experienced panel including Andrew Blake Wye Valley AONB Officer , David Price NFU Wales, Simon Cutter winner of the 2013 Farming Awards and Caroline Hanks farming and conservation consultant.

Andrew Blake commented “The judges were really impressed by the quality of the entrants for the 2015 AONB Farming Awards. All the shortlisted farms are making an outstanding contribution to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the Wye Valley. But the judges were particularly impressed with the educational and conservation work that the Herberts carry out at Lewstone Farm.
With farmland covering 65% of the Wye Valley AONB the Farming Awards are a great opportunity to promote the good work that farmers do in keeping the Wye Valley such a special place for so many people”.

Runner up was Alan Morgan from Gadr Farm near Llangowan, Monmouthshire who received a certificate and runner up prize of £200 for his outstanding contribution to conservation. Over the last 10 years Alan has planted and managed hedgerows and trees, created 16 ponds and four hectares of meadow on his 160 acre farm with sheep, arable and firewood enterprises. Alan was a previous winner in 2009.

Two farms were selected for the Highly Commended Award and received £100 each, together with a certificate. The first Whitehill Farm, Wonastow, Monmouthshire, run by Beryl and Peter Yeomans, also displayed their dedication to conservation management. As part of Glastir Advanced and Glastir Woodland Management schemes they have  planted 7 acres of trees and 5.5 acres of meadow on their 120 acre former dairy farm. They also have sympathetically converted barns into offices and 5* tourism accommodation.

Longley Farm, Stow Green, St Briavels, Gloucestershire was the second farm to be awarded with a Highly Commended certificate. John, Helen and Will Powell run this 550 acre farm under Entry Level Stewardship and have been at the centre of their community for many years. The farm is currently threatened by the proposed expansion of Clearwell Quarry which if granted will take both the farm and a majority of the acreage out of production. Despite these uncertainties the Powells continue to focus on maintaining and improving soil quality which is central to efficient and productive beef and arable enterprises.

Above: Farming Awards Group in front of AONB Marquee left  back David Price Judge Wales NFU, Runner up Alan Morgan Gadr Farm, Monmouthshire, Nick Critchley ,Wye Valley AONB Development Officer, Highly Commended Helen Powell and John Powell, Longley Farm, Stowe Gloucestershire,. Front row from left Councillor Phil Cutter Chairman of Wye Valley AONB JAC, Highly Commended Peter Yeomans and Beryl Yeomans  Whitehill Farm, Monmouthshire , Winners of the Farming Award Ann and Jim Herbert from Lewstone Farm, Andrew Blake Judge and Wye Valley AONB Officer.

- Nikki

Foresters’ Forest Launch

- Posted Wednesday 19 August 2015 by Sharon Seymour

105 new volunteers signed up to register an interest in the variety of projects within this programme. A press release will be launched soon. For further information about this new and exciting large venture please visit The Heritage Lottery Fund -  Forestry Commission Foresters Forest.


- Sharon Seymour

Monmouthshire Walking Festival

- Posted Saturday 28 March 2015 by Sharon Seymour

Walk with us in this centenary year of World War 1 when we discover the people and places that played their part in this Great War and World War 2.

With the beautiful backdrop of Monmouthshire experienced friendly walk leaders will take you to the sites of secret bunkers used by the resistance, to grave of the possibly the last combatant of World War 1 or even discover the vital part played by pigeons whilst walking the Wales Coast Path and much more.

The lengths of walks vary from 3 to a challenging 18 miles plus there is a torchlight walk for the whole family on Halloween with plenty of surprises in store.

Monmouthshire has over a 1,000 miles of footpaths crisscrossing the county and 7 long distance trails which take you through a landscape of stark contrasts: flat coastal wetlands of the Gwent Levels; picturesque mountains in the north, Brecon Beacons National Park; the Wye Valley an AONB and the peaceful rolling farmland of the Usk and Monnow valleys.

The county also boasts 3 Walkers are Welcome towns, Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth and the village of Tintern. These towns are supported by businesses and local people who offer a warm welcome to walkers. 

 For more walks including local heritage walks pdf versions are available to download and print please click here

- Sharon Seymour

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