7th May 2021


Rural Rap

LODDINGTON FARM IS ABANDONING ITS OLD FARMING PRACTICES IN FAVOUR OF REGENERATIVE FARMING, reports the Kent Messenger.  The farm, which was the first commercial grower of Bramley seedlings, has been a traditional top fruit farm growing apples, pears, apricots and cherries since the Smith family took it on in 1882.  The current incumbant, James Smith, has abandoned the use of pesticides and herbicides and has decided to work with nature to achieve a more nutritious product.  “It’s all about the soil,” he explains.  “Good soil health leads to good plant health, good animal health and ultimately better human health.”

A STRAWBERRY BORN AND BRED IN KENT IS TO TAKE CENTRE STAGE AT THE STATE-OF-THE-ART GLASSHOUSE BUILT BY JAMES DYSON, reports the Kent Messenger.  The Dyson Farming enterprise in Lincolnshire aims to develop efficient and sustainable farming practices.  This includes a 15-acre glasshouse which has just welcomed its first strawberry harvest – the Malling Centenary – which was bred in East Malling.  Dyson expects to grow 750 tonnes of the variety each year for UK consumption.  The first crop has been harvested and delivered to M&S, Waitrose and Tesco, meaning that British grown strawberries can replace imported varieties and minimise food miles.

DESPITE THE PANDEMIC, THE “LIVING LAND” EVENT TOOK PLACE YESTERDAY, reports the KCAS.  The virtual event is aimed at children in Year 3 and 4 and included a collection of fun and educational videos that teach children about farming, growing crops and raising livestock.  The short films enable children to watch lambs being born, find out how apples are grown and see the world’s fastest tractor in action.  The resources will remain available on the website, for free, for 12 months.  There were also a series of livestreams enabling children to ask questions directly of the farmers.  Over 110 schools registered for details and 65 activity packs have been distributed across the county.  The annual event has been running for 16 years.  In a normal year it takes place at the Kent Showground and is attended by around 2,800 school children from abut 50 schools.

A BOLD VISION FOR MAIDSTONE AIMS TO MAKE IT THE “BUSINESS CAPITAL OF KENT,” reports Kent Online.  The new draft economic development strategy has been drawn up on behalf of Maidstone Borough Council and reveals the scop of the challenges faced: an initial hit to the local economy from the pandemic could be equivalent to £575m and 4,000 jobs.  The draft strategy sets out five key areas of focus, including helping to develop a thriving rural economy away from the borough’s urban centres.  Viticulture is identified as a particular opportunity, with Kent increasingly growing a global reputation for the quality of its produce and the opportunity for wine tourism.  Hush Heath’s co-founder, Richard Balfour-Lynn, is interviewed for the piece and says he “welcomes the recognition of the role the industry can play in creating more jobs in rural communities.”

BRITISH APPLE AND PEAR GROWERS WILL SOON BE ABLE TO EXPORT TO INDIA UNDER A TRADE PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK, reports the Grocer.  The agreement is not as comprehensive as a free trade deal, such as those with the EU and Japan, but will reduce non-tariff barriers on fruit and other sectors.  The partnership was announced earlier this week, but it remains unclear when the measures will take place.  Growers welcomed the opportunity to expand their currently limited export markets – apple, pear and quince export totalled less than £13.5m in 2020.

A NATIONAL SKY LANTERN BAN IS NEEDED TO STEM ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME, argues The Times and Farming UK, among many others.  As the Times notes, it takes a lot to unite the Countryside Alliance, the RSPCA, firefighters, insurers, environmentalists, many local councils and Keep Britain Tidy, yet sky lanterns have achieved the impossible.  A coalition of 18 organisations has written to the environment minister to explain how the UK government’s current approach is “out of date” and “out of line with other countries.”  A number of other countries have banned the import, sale and release of the lanterns due to the damage they cause to livestock, habitats and farms.  The NFCC wildfire lead said: “sky lanterns have been proven to start wildfires and property fires, kill or injure livestock, as well as polluting our natural environment.”


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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