AONB Events

North Wessex Downs Annual Forum

From: 08:45am to 16:00pm, Oct 17, 2018  

Venue: Black Barn at Rushall Manor, Back Lane, Bradfield, RG7 6DS

Farming Tomorrow - Prospects for Farming in the AONB

  • Starts at 8.45am for registration and coffee; programme commences at 9.30am

    Farming Tomorrow - Prospects for farming in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

    How will Brexit affect agriculture in the North Wessex Downs?
    What will that mean for the landscape and wildlife?
    What is the future of land management support payments in the long term?
    What does “public money for public goods” really mean?

    Featuring a line-up of expert and influential speakers on farming and conservation, including
    Caroline Drummond, Director of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) on the big questions facing sustainable food and farming as we leave the EU, including how to engage the support of the taxpaying public
    Merrick Denton-Thompson. immediate past President of the Landscape Institute on What the Future Holds for Landscapes, Food and Farming, including the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and the Review of AONBs and National Parks
    Phil Jarvis, Head of Farming, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) on “Fields for the Future: a winning blueprint for farming, wildlife and the environment - 25 years’ experience of the Allerton Project”
    Chris Musgrave, former Marlborough Downs farmer and CLA member of the AONB Partnership on “The Way Ahead: a glimpse into the future of farming”
    Peter Lemon, North Wessex Downs farmer and farming and rural business member of the AONB Partnership on “The Southern Streams Farmers’ Group: Common Purpose for a Healthy Environment”
    Plus a choice of fascinating afternoon tours/site visits including:
    Rushall Manor Farm tour – join us for a trailer ride around the farm to learn about organic farming methods, conservation efforts and the John Simonds Trust’s education and training work with diverse a range of young people
    Woodland Management - hear from Richard Edwards, Forestry Manager for the Englefield Estate, about balancing woodland management for financial return with a commitment to conservation
    History, Heritage and Education – learn about how the farm and its landscape have changed through time in response to changing demands on a guided walk led by a local historian, Lady Sian Crisp,  round parts of Rushall Manor Farm
    Managing the Land for Clean Water – join local farm advisor, Karen Davies, to see and hear how Catchment Sensitive Farming works in practice
    The programme also includes a Q&A session and plenty of opportunities to meet new people or catch up with your farming and conservation contacts from across the AONB 

To Book: Ticket price is £15 including lunch and refreshments. For a booking form click here

 Rushall Farm Information:

The farm is in the Pang Valley part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It occupies land stretching north from the River Pang between Bradfield and Stanford Dingley.  Since 1980's the farm has been striving to achieve a balance between food production, environment and education. Rushall farm has been a forerunner for the delivery of societal goods and services that is predicted to be the basis of a post BREXIT Agricultural Support Scheme.  Payment by outcomes such as enhancing the natural environment by resource protection air, soil and water quality: planting woodland, providing new habitats for wildlife, increasing biodiversity, contributing and returning cultivated land to wildflower meadows or other more natural states.

Rushall Farm is a mixed organic beef, sheep and arable farm comprising of 175 ha plus 40 ha of woodland. Steve and Elizabeth Waters farm the land in a “share farming agreement” with the owner W Cumber & Son (Theale) Ltd.  William Cumber owns the land and buildings whilst the Waters owns the livestock and machinery.

Currently, the farm is in an-10-year Environmental Stewardship Agreement Organic Entry Level Plus Higher-Level Stewardship, which started in October 2011 and includes:

Creation of Species rich semi-natural grassland  
 Floristically enhanced 4-meter margins   
 Creation of grassland for target features   
 Creation of woodland     
 Restoration of species rich semi-natural grassland  
 Enhanced wild bird seed mix     
 Maintenance of grassland for target features 
 Brassica fodder crop followed by overwintered stubble 

For over 30 years Rushall Manor site has provided the educational base for the John Simonds Trust (JST). An educational trust that sees 14-15,000 pupils a year from all ages Reception to University. Attracting schools from within the AONB and severely disadvantaged inner city areas and catering for children special educational needs and disabilities. They come to learn about food farming, habitats, river studies and to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the countryside.

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