3rd December 2021


Rural Rap

A TONBRIDGE FARM HAS BEEN FINED £60K AFTER AN ACCIDENT IN WHICH ONE OF ITS EMPLOYEES WAS KILLED, reports Farming UK and the Kent Messenger.  J&D Foster Farmers, of Fishponds Farm, pled guilty to a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.  The accident occurred in 2019, when employee George Murrell was crushed by a grain drying tunnel at the farm.  The work he was undertaking involved dismantling the grain drying tunnel while working underneath it. Agriculture accounts for 1% of Britain’s workforce, by 20% of worker deaths.

ONE OF THE UK’S BIGGEST FRUIT FARMING FIRMS HAS WON PERMISSION TO ERECT POYLTUNNELS ACROSS A 27-ACRE SITE, reports the Kent Messenger.  FW Mansfield & Son argued that more frequent and heavier rainstorms are destroying its cherry crop at Nickle Farm in Chartham.  Consequently, in order to protect its produce, it wants to install sheeted tunnels in six different locations at its sprawling base off the A28.  The plans attracted local criticism amid concerns that the structures would be “blots on the landscape.”  However, the council report said that the development is outside the AONB and many of the polytunnels are not visible due to the topography, or hidden by existing landscaping.

RESIDENTS FROM ACROSS KENT CAME TOGETHER TO PROTEST AGAINST THE “RELENTLESS” HOUSEBUILDING IN THE SOUTH EAST, reports Kent Online.  Groups met to  protest development plans in Capel, Faversham, Tovil, Old Wives Lees, Westgate and Garlinge, Sittingbourne, Benenden, Canterbury, Lidsing and Lenham Heath, among many others.

A STUDY INTO THE BEST VINEYARDS TO VISIT ALL YEAR ROUND HAS SEEN KENT DOMINATE THE TOP 10, reports the Kent Messenger.  The county laid claim to half of those listed, with Chapel Down leading Kent’s representatives, in third place.  The Mount Vineyard in Sevenoaks was listed fourth, and Biddenden Vineyard came fifth.

A KENT CHRISTMAS TREE GROWER SAYS THAT REAL TREES MAKE THE FESTIVE PERIOD SPECIAL, reports the BBC.  Rob Schroeder’s family set up Kingswood Christmas Trees near Maidstone in 1955.  The business started with a couple of hundred trees, and they now grow thousands. He says: “it’s so good to have a real Christmas tree because of the smell and the feel and appearance…a plastic tree is not a tree, is it?”

CHAPEL DOWN RAISED MORE THAN 90% OF ITS RECENT FUNDING GOALS IN JUST OVER THREE WEEKS, reports Harpers.  The Kent-based English wine producer launched a crowdfunding campaign in June to raise up to £7m to help expand its vineyards in the North Downs and ramp up exports.  Hot on the heels of that news, it has announced further changes to its senior team, with Mark Harvey moving from Chief Commercial Officer to Chief Marketing Officer.  Tom Hepworth-Bond has joined the Executive Leadership Team as UK Sales Director.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS ANNOUNCED THE SFI PAYMENT RATES, reports Farming UK.  George Eustice set out further information yesterday on the SFI, which is being introduced as part of a post-Brexit reform of farmers’ subsidies.  Farmers will receive payment for taking actions which generate environmental benefits such as improving grasslands or soils.  For arable and horticultural soils standard, farmers will be paid between £22 and £40 per hectare, depending on activity level.  For improved grassland soils standard, farmers will be paid between £28 and £58 per hectare.  Finally, farmers will be £148 fixed per agreement per year for the moorland and rough grazing standard, plus an additional variable payment rate of £6.45 per hectare for the introductory level.

MORE FARMLAND BIRD SPECIES HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE RSPB’S RED LIST, reports Farming UK and the GWCT.  The latest review of the red list shows that the UK’s bird species are increasingly at risk.  Eleven species have been red-listed for the first time, including the swift, house martin, greenfinch and Bewick’s swan.  The length of the red list has almost doubled from 36 to 70 species in the last 25 years.  However, in positive news, the white-tailed eagle has moved from Red to Amber as a result of conservation work.

EVENT - Coexisting with BEAVERS: by landowners, for landowners

It is likely that more and more of us will soon be living alongside beavers.  Kent already has a small population of beavers and it seems likely that, following the national consultation, government policy will allow for more releases into enclosures and the wild.

Three short talks from landowners in Cornwall, Essex and Devon who have beavers on their land, followed by a panel Q&A.  The talks will highlight the challenges, benefits and opportunities of coexisting with beavers.

This event is suitable for landowners, land managers, land agents and others in similar roles.

The Spitfire Cricket Ground
Old Dover Road
Canterbury CT1 3NZ

Date & Time:
Monday 20 December 2021
16.30 to 20.30

Three short talks followed by Q&A
Buffet afterwards with the change for further networking and discussion

NB: A livestream via Zoom will also be available.

More info and to book the event is here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/coexisting-with-beavers-talk-and-qa-by-landowners-for-landowners-tickets-214527095317

Food Loop

…is seeking 50 businesses and organisations across Kent and Medway to become a FoodLoop Champion.

FoodLoop is a B2B app, connecting Kent food busineses that have surplus food – such as growers, secondary producers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and hospitality businesses – with Kent “takers” of surplus food – such as producers, food production companies, social supermarkets, gleanng groups, food banks and other community initiatives.  It aims to reduce food waste, put more surplus fresh food on the table, and help to build Kent’s community.

It is now looking for Food Loop Champions to donate £500 to the cause. 

In exchange, donors receive a Food Loop Champion logo to use on marketing materials, a mention on all FoodLoop promoitional materials, and a ticket to the inaugural dinner of Kent FoodLoop Champions.

To enable the development of the app and to run a 12 month project to build the community, the enterprise needs £43,000.  It has already raised £19,000 through various routes including crowdfunding.

For further information, contact: floortje.hoette@producedinkent.co.uk

AONB KENT DOWNS : Grants for farmers, land managers and landowners

Applications are now open for the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme (link)

The three year scheme aims to fund outcomes for People, Place, Climate and Nature in the Kent Downs.  It is possible to apply for more than one year.  Applications can range from £250k, to no miminum.  Funding can be up to 100%, but value for money is part of the assessment criteria.

Applicants will be supported to carry out projects that:

  • Provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage
  • Support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses
  • Mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • Support nature recovery


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

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