Landscapes for Life
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are some of the UK’s most cherished and outstanding landscapes.
Celebrating farmers who make an outstanding contribution to conserving and enhancing the landscape.
Farmland covers 65% of the Wye Valley AONB. Our Farming Award celebrates the wonderful work that farmers and land managers do in keeping the Wye Valley such a special place to live, work and visit, for example:
The Farming Award is open to anyone managing land in or adjacent to the Wye Valley AONB. Farms, community groups, organisations and individuals can apply or be nominated by someone else for any activity they feel has made an outstanding contribution to the AONB. An entry can be for a wide variety of reasons, such as contributing towards conserving rare animal breeds, supporting the local community or management of wildlife habitats. The winner receives a cash prize of £400 and the AONB Farming Award trophy. There are also cash prizes for runners-up. These are awarded in the Countryside Ring at the Monmouthshire Show in July.
To keep things as simple as possible there is no complicated application form. Applicants simply declare an interest in applying, outlining what they consider to be their outstanding contribution, which is followed by a visit from the AONB to discuss the application. The AONB then shortlist farms to be visited by a judging panel which includes the AONB Manager, a Farming Wildlife Expert, an NFU representative and a previous winner of the farming awards. The winner also receives the prestigious Wye Valley AONB Farming Award Trophy.
The Farming Award was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 restrictions, and we are currently reviewing the 2021 event.
As a general guide the process is usually as follows:
Further information from Nick Critchley at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01600 710841.
Esther and Henry Rudge run their family farm at Ballingham court balancing two key elements – empathy with their surroundings and profitability to enable the farm to continue through the generations. Esther is the 4th generation of her family at the farm, and their son Monty is now added to the partnership following his return from Harper Adams University.
The 550 acre farm includes 240 beef cattle with 70 Hereford cross calves sold to Waitrose, 200 Aberfield cross Romney ewes, 20 acres of apple orchard (Jonogold sold to Copella for Apple juice), 8 acres of organic conference pear orchard, 120 acres arable, 70 pedigree Herefords and 20 acres of woodland.
Twenty years of environmental schemes has restored 4kms of hedgerow, created buffer strips and bird cover and planted 4 ha of woodland, whilst 4km of permissive bridleway has been opened. Recent work has seen Invasive Non Native Species managed on the banks of the Wye along with sections of the river fenced off to stock. The farm has invested heavily in renewable energy, including biomass boilers and an anaerobic digester.
The Rudge’s are also heavily involved in the local community, on the Parish Council, Village Hall Committee, and through the Street Pastors scheme in Hereford. Visitors are welcome to the farm, and the family allow groups to camp by the river, such as DoE, Scouts and church groups when on canoeing trips.
The judges were particularly taken by the wide range of diversification, the sustainability of the enterprise with the next generation coming through and the wide range of management with conservation in mind.
Discover: Enjoy this beautiful landscape walking along the permissive paths the Rudges have created across the farm. Buy apple juice from their roadside stall and beef and lamb hampers from www.ballinghamcourt.co.uk.
Coppett Hill forms part of the iconic view enjoyed by visitors at Symonds Yat Rock. It was designated a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in 2000 and is one of the largest in Herefordshire, with about two thirds woodland and one third open hill. Unusually it is owned by a Trust and has been run by local volunteers for the last 30 years.
The Coppett Hill Common Trust is in both Higher Level Stewardship and Woodland Grant Scheme agreements. Management, carried out by volunteers, helps to maintain and improve the habitat for wildlife – including the restoration of dew ponds, bracken control to encourage more floral diversity, grassland management and access works. Herdwick sheep have been used to graze one end of the hill. The Trust have also sponsored a Director through Forest School.
Discover: Criss-crossed by footpaths, you can enjoy wonderful views from Coppett Hill. Many interesting species can be found including Aaders, Pearl Border Fritillary, dormice and orchids. Walks booklet available from: www.coppett-hill.org.uk
Mike Johnson is the fourth generation to run Broome Farm at Peterstow in Herefordshire. Following the family tradition of cider making, Mike uses 130 varieties of home-grown apples and pears to make juices, craft ciders and perries, which are sold at the farm’s pub, The Yew Tree.
Environmentally-minded orchard management, through a policy of minimal spraying and bird boxes in the orchards to encourage natural pest predation, encourages biodiversity.
Discover: ‘Drinking real cider in an orchard at Broome Farm’ is No.19 on the Rough Guide’s list of 101 Things to Do in the UK! You can taste Broome Farm produce at the farm’s cider shop at pub, the Yew Tree at Peterstow. Or pitch your tent at the Farm or The Yew Tree for the annual Cider Festival. Enjoy the orchards on a Cider Tour and from the Herefordshire Trail which passes the farm. http://rosscider.com
Ann and Jim Herbert run Lewstone Farm near Whitchurch in Herefordshire. Alongside their free range egg production (they won Egg Producer of the Year in 2013), the farm’s contribution to education is outstanding. Ann’s family have farmed at Lewstone for four generations, whilst Jim is a biology teacher. Together they have geared the farm up for Environmental Studies school visits, creating a classroom in a barn and opportunities for children to look at, and learn about woodland, streams, grassland and wetland.
Lewstone is farmed in a traditional, low input manner, with a commitment to retaining and restoring built features such as the farm’s old stone sheep wash. They have created several acres of wildflower meadow and their chickens benefit from the hundreds of trees planted in the free range poultry area.
Discover: You can enjoy the landscapes of Lewstone from the footpaths which cross the farm.
Lyndon Edwards is the third generation of his family to farm at Severndale, adjacent to the southern end of the AONB in Gloucestershire. Organic since 1999, all the animals enjoy free range grazing, supplemented by traditional home grown crops, which improves biodiversity. The farm has 200 prize-winning pedigree milking cows and 50 cross bred Hereford Cattle.
Diversification includes the building of a veterinary centre, a business centre and Hanley Farm Shop, which sells farm meat and local produce. Wanting to share the family passion for growing, Lyndon participates in ‘land share’, loaning local people land to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Discover: Buy Severndale meat and other local produce in the award-winning Hanley Farm Shop and visit the farm on an Open Day. http://www.hanleyfarmshop.co.uk/
Home Farm on the Courtfield Estate, near Welsh Bicknor in Herefordshire, is farmed under a partnership between landowner, Jerome Vaughan and Simon Cutter of Model Farm, Ross. Their shared vision has seen the farm converted from intensive arable production to a sustainable farming system, certified with Organic Farmers and Growers, with a significant regeneration of wildlife.
Hereford cattle now graze large areas of floodplain grassland, which used to be covered with potatoes and sugar beet. Some of the Herefords are of the British poll Hereford strain currently on the brink of extinction. Sheep graze steeper slopes where arable cropping had caused erosion.
Discover: You can enjoy the wildflower meadows on the Wye Valley Walk and permissive paths, which run through Home Farm. Buy Home Farm’s organic meat through the Model Farm co-operative in Ross-on-Wye. http://modelfarm.org
Henry and Esther Rudge, owners of Ballingham Court Farm, have twice won the Wye Valley AONB Farming Awards. Esther is the fourth generation of her family to farm at Ballingham Court, a traditional mixed farm.
Located in the Herefordshire part of the AONB and bordering the River Wye SSSI, arable land on the floodplain has been returned to grassland under an agri-environment scheme, helping to protect the soil and the water quality of the Wye and enhance the landscape of the AONB. Meat from their Hereford cross cattle is supplied to Waitrose. They have 22,000 Jonagold apple trees, supplying Copella apple juice and also grow organic pears.
Discover: Enjoy this beautiful landscape walking along the permissive paths the Rudges have created across the farm. Buy apple juice from their roadside stall and beef and lamb hampers from www.ballinghamcourt.co.uk
Mark O’Brien and Liz Vice of Mabley Farm, at Woolhope, in Herefordshire are dedicated nature conservationists with a unique approach to farming. Working in a landscape of very high quality, Mark and Liz have established an extensive organic system supporting a range of wildlife, whilst enhancing the landscape of woodland, traditional parkland and hay meadows. Biodiversity management and recording on the farm is exemplary.
They breed pedigree rare-breed English Longhorn cattle, as well as making effective use of timber & coppice products including making & marketing charcoal and traditional gates. Good educational use is made of the woodlands and grasslands, with guided walks, school visits and Higher Education research.
Discover: You can enjoy the landscape around Mabley Farm from the Wye Valley Walk and adjacent footpaths. Choose Mabley Farm charcoal for your bbq. http://www.mableyfarm.co.uk
Gareth Williams from Caplor Farm, near Fownhope, in Herefordshire, is committed to finding ways of working more sustainably using alternative technology and renewable energy. Predominantly arable, the farm also has beef cattle, chickens, holiday lets and office units. Energy used on the farm is generated from solar panels, wind turbine and a biomass boiler. Buildings have been clad using colours carefully chosen to blend in well with the surrounding countryside, with extra screening through tree planting, pond creation and meadow management.
Discover: You can enjoy the landscapes of Caplor Farm from the Wye Valley Walk which passes through the farm. https://www.caplor.co.uk/farm
Alan Morgan and his son William farm 160 acres of land at Gadr Farm, on the western edge of the AONB near Cwmcarvan in Monmouthshire. A mix of sheep, arable and firewood enterprises, Gadr Farm is a lovely example of farming with conservation in mind.
The benefits of many years of regular conservation work are evident, where Alan has identified potential new habitats, creating ponds and streamside corridors, and managed these areas to encourage wildlife. Environmental work on the farm includes hedge planting, laying and coppicing. Woodland management in Gaer Wood SSSI, provides timber for the farm’s firewood business. Hay meadows are also flourishing.
Discover: You can enjoy the wonderful views from Gadr Farm along the footpaths which cross the hay meadows and woodland.