5th June 2020


Rural Rap

LAST WEEK’S DECISION TO ALLOW THE UK’S LARGEST SOLAR PARK TO BE BUILT NEAR FAVERSHAM HAS ATTRACTED MEDIA INTEREST FROM AROUND THE WORLD, reports the Kent Messenger, among many others.  The highly controversial 900-acre solar farm proposals have rumbled on for years but are now receiving a flurry of attention.  The whole project site covers 5 million m2 of farm and marshland, currently used as arable, freshwater grazing, flood defences and the existing sub-station.  Some panels will be raised 3.9m due to flood risk.  The plan is a JV between Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy.  Wirsol has built and operates 24 solar parks in the UK, and five in Australia.  While Cleve Hill bosses are delighted by the outcome, others are not – Helen Whately, the local MP, is disappointed, and says that people will be “shocked and deeply frustrated.”  Other groups have expressed anger and sadness, and hopes that lines of appeal may be available.  The development is almost the size of Faversham itself and would be a dominant feature alongside one of the world’s most important coastal wetland sites for migrating birds.  Local fauna includes dozens of bird breeding species including the marsh harrier, lapwing, bearded tit, skylark, dunnock, house sparrow, barn owl, yellow wagtail, meadow pipit, linnet, reed bunting, great crested newts, bats, water voles, and a pair of peregrines.

THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND IS HOST TO SOME UNEXPECTED FRESH PRODUCE, reports the Kent Messenger.  While Kent has long been synonymous with the very best in fresh produce, today the county is home to food and drink products not always associated with this corner of England.  A combination of climate change and improved technology enables us to grow things not previously possible.  Examples include award-winning red wines, such as those grown by Hush Heath Estate in Staplehurst; apricots and apricot spirits grown by Bardsley England; chocolate, including dark chocolate produced by the Kent Dark Chocolate Company; charcuterie from the Moons Green Charcuterie; and ariona berries, used in juice, smoothies and cooking, grown by Andrew Tickle near Sevenoaks.   kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/who-knew-these-were-grown-in-kent-227915/

RED TRACTOR IS ADDING A NEW RANGE OF MARQUES TO BROADEN ITS OFFER, reports the farming press.  The assurance scheme is launching a set of farming marques in response to public demand for differentiation on how food is produced.  It is hoped that the marques will help to simplify the experience of shoppers and diners when they are buying food.  Based on farming systems widely recognised by consumers, the new chicken range (for example) will have orange for free range, purple for enhanced welfare and green for organic.  All the new marques will retain the union flag and the distinctive tractor.  The new ranges will roll out over the next twelve months.

JAMIE OLIVER HAS URGED THE GOVERNMENT TO BACK BRITISH FARMING POST-BREXIT, reports Farming UK.  The TV chef has written to the Prime Minister expressing concerns over the possible undermining of British farmers’ high production standards.  It comes as the Agriculture Bill amendment in the Commons, which sought legal requirement for equivalence of standards for imported foods – was voted down by a majority of 51 after it failed to receive Government backing.  Oliver said that he believes that not supporting the amendment would “seriously undermine public health and unpick the delicate patchwork quilt of farmers and food producers who are the backbone of this country.”  He went on to say that coronavirus has made the British public “think a bit more” about how our food is produced and its health impact, and that this “pivotal moment” is an opportunity to “build a stronger and better food system.”  farminguk.com/news/jamie-oliver-pleads-with-pm-to-back-british-farming-post-brexit_55772.html

DIGGING PONDS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE CAN DELIVER “UNPRECEDENTED” GAINS FOR NATURE, reports the Kent Messenger.  A nine-year study found that creating just 20 clean water ponds across four square miles of farmland increased the number of wetland plant species by more than a quarter.  The number of regionally rare plants almost trebled, with an increase of 181%, while species that had gone extinct in the local area returned.  The clean water ponds created as part of the project focused on digging them in low intensity pasture, scrub or woodland where they would fill up with clean water and avoid pollution running off from agriculture or roads.  Not only were they the most effective of the tested measures, they were also one of the cheapest, and helped bring back rare species including marsh arrowgrass, bristle club-rush, and mare’s tail.

GROWERS ARE INVITED TO TAKE PART IN A NATIONAL APHID SURVEY, reports Farmers Weekly.  The survey will help to gain a better understanding of the number and abundance of aphids and beneficial insect populations in cereal crops across the UK.  The survey is being conducted by crop research firm Adas, and aims to use data to demonstrate the variation in pests and their natural enemies across different agricultural landscapes.  The survey will take about an hour to complete.  For more information, please see the full article – fwi.co.uk/arable/crop-management/pests/growers-asked-to-help-with-national-aphid-survey – or contact mark.ramsden@adas.co.uk

Pick for Britain!

A Government website aiming to link prospective farm workers with prospective employers.  Growers can now register their vacancies for this year’s harvest.  Please visit: https://pickforbritain.org.uk/ to register your requirements.


RABI, Addington Fund, FCN, Forage Aid and RSABI, supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund, have launched the Farming Help initiative.  The initiative is also being launched with the NFYFC, the NFU and the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust. 
FARMING HELP recognises that this will be an anxious time for many farmers and farming families and periods of poor health or self-isolation may result in temporary practical difficulties on farm.  For help drafting a contingency plan, for practical local help with livestock, shopping etc, or to discuss your concerns and anxieties,

Contact 03000 111 999 or visit www.farminghelp.co.uk


Thousands of temporary workers are needed on British farms to help feed the nation during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Jobs are available on fruit farms, arable farms, livestock farms and in pack houses – with workers also needed to fill other vacancies. 
Follow @Kentslandarmy on Facebook for specific opportunities, or visit:
To apply, please visit: Hops Labour Solutions: https://hopslaboursolutions.com/
Concordia: www.concordiavolunteers.org.uk / 01273 422 218
Pro-Force Recruitment: https://pro-force.co.uk/ / 0333 335 6262
CDS Labour: http://cdslabour.co.uk/
British Summer Fruits: www.britishsummerfruits.co.uk/jobs / 020 7575 7654



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