8th November 2019


Rural Rap

A SOFT FRUIT GROWER IS THE THIRD FASTEST GROWING EXPORTER IN KENT, reports the Kent Messenger.  At a special unveiling this week, the list of pacesetting exporters was published alongside the main top 50 for fastest overall growth firms.  Edward Vinson, a Faversham-based fruit grower, has reported 364.1% export growth.  Since 1999, Vinson made a strategic decision to stop producing other crops and just focus on soft fruits.  Running three divisions: fruit production, plant breeding and propagation, it had an overseas turnover of £1.6m and operating revenue of £17.2m last year.  The company attributes its success to its 444 staff who have contributed significantly to its growth.

A £2.27M CASH BOOST HAS ENABLED THE NATIONAL TRUST TO BOOST WILDLIFE ON THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER, reports the Kent Messenger.  A section of coastline between Dover and Deal was bought by the National Trust, where barley has now been planted.  Birdwatchers have reported a huge increase in birds, wildlife, butterflies and native species that haven’t been seen for such a long time.  The breeds seen recently include corn buntings, skylarks and green hairstreak butterflies.  National Trust Landscape Engagement Officer said “this land is a great example of how you can manage a landscape and produce a crop.”

EMERGENCY SERVICES SCRAMBLED TO A KENT FARM YESTERDAY FOLLOWING A SUSPECTED CHEMICAL LEAK, reports Farming UK.  It is suspected that Rumwood Green Farm, in Langley near Maidstone, suffered a carbon monoxide leak which affected 57 fruit pickers.  Ambulance crews and a Hazard Area Response Team attended the scene, but none of the workers are said to be in a serious condition.

PERRY COURT FARM WAS AMONG FARMERS WHO WELCOMED PRINCE CHARLES TO LONDON’S SWISS COTTAGE FARMERS MARKET, reports Farming UK and The Farmers Guardian.  Prince Charles and Camilla paid a visit to the North London market on Wednesday as part of the market’s 20th anniversary.  Perry Court Farm, based near Wye in Kent, showcases heritage apples at the market, including many varieties unavailable in supermarkets.  London Farmers Markets said “the demand for regional, high welfare, and seasonal foods keeps growing, and we’re proud to be recognised by their Royal Highnesses for our work supporting farmers.”  London Farmers’ Markets now have 22 weekly markets in London, with around 250 farmers and local producers.

FLY TIPPING ON PUBLIC LAND HAS INCREASED BY 8% ACROSS ENGLAND IN THE PAST YEAR AS FARMERS FEAR THE CRIME IS BECOMING MORE COMMON, reports Farmers Weekly, the Countryside Alliance and Farming UK, among many others.  Figures show that councils in England dealt with more than 1 million fly-tipping incidents in the last year.  It costs an average £1,000 to clean up each incident, and with many rural businesses suffering multiple incidents, it can affect the bottom line very quickly.  33% of incidents were the equivalent size to a small van load, and 3% were “tipper lorry load” sized incidents.  Across England, 76,000 fixed penalty notice fines were issued, raising only £1m towards the total council cost of £12.9m.

A NEW £50M GOVERNMENT SCHEME HAS BEEN LAUNCHED TO ENCOURAGE FARMERS IN ENGLAND TO PLANT MORE TREES, reports Farming UK.  The Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme is part of an effort to fight climate change.  It encourages land managers to create new woodland in return for payments as those trees grow.  The scheme looks to provide long-term financial income needed for landowners to invest in carbon sequestration.  Successful participants will be offered the option to sell Woodland Carbon Units to the government over 35 years at a guaranteed price set by auction.  Alternatively, farmers can choose to sell CO2 on the open market.

AGRICULTURE IS STILL THE DEADLIEST INDUSTRY IN THE UK, reports Farmers Weekly and Farming UK.  The UK farming, forestry and fishing industries experienced 32 work-place deaths in 2018 and 2019, according to a new report.  Being struck by a moving vehicle was the most common cause of fatal injury, accounting for 25% of all accidents.  17% of incidents were caused by animal-related injury, and falls from a height were responsible for 16%.  Agriculture, forestry and fishing has a rate of injury some 18 times higher than the average across all industries.  14,000 people experienced non-fatal injuries at the agricultural workplace.

FOUR FARMERS ARE AMONG THE INDUSTRY LEADERS AND EXPERTS CHOSEN TO HELP OVERSEE THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NATIONAL FOOD STRATEGY, reports Farmers Weekly.  Leon restaurants co-founder Henry Dimbleby, who has been appointed by government to lead the first major field-to-fork review of the UK food system in nearly 75 years, unveiled the 23-strong advisory panel this week.  It includes NFU President Minette Batters, Soil Association Chief Executive Helen Browning, G’s Fresh Chairman John Shropshire, and Farmers Weekly 2018 Farmer of the Year Craig Livingstone.  Due to be published next year, the review will consider what changes are needed to ensure the UK food system is built on a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector – and delivers safe, healthy, affordable food – regardless of where people live or how much they earn.


FCN is a voluntary organisation supporting farmers and their families through difficult times.  With over 400 volunteers across the country, its confidential helpline is open every day from 7am to 11pm.

The charity is strengthening its local volunteer groups in response to a growing need for support as a result of ever-increasing challenges facing those who work in the sector.

If you have an understanding of the farming industry, a genuine interest in the wellbeing of those who work in it, and are seeking a rewarding voluntary role, please get in touch.

FCN KENT is seeking a Group Co-Ordinator, a Group Chairperson, and other volunteers.

For further information, please contact:

Mark Thomas, Regional Director (South), at mark@fcn.org.uk on 07815 082 326.


The Old Chalk New Downs project is offering grants for capital work proposals that contribute to securing habitat connectivity and improving access across the project area, through the enhancement and management of chalk grassland, hedges and ponds.

If you have a project idea, please contact William Moreno at: william.moreno@kent.gov.uk, call 03000 410 348, or visit www.oldchalknewdowns.org.uk.

Dates for your diary

16th November : Wine Garden of England Festival
Sip, share and discover the stories behind some of England’s finest wines at this exclusive festival at Rochester Cathedral, back for its second year.  The Wine Garden of England is made up of seven Kent wine producers: Biddenden, Chapel Down, Domain Evremond, Gusbourne, Hush Heath, Simpsons’ Wine Estate and Squerryes.  During the festival, you will have the chance to meet expert winemakers, sampleup to 30 premium wines from Kent and learn more about our very own wine pioneers.
Rochester Cathedral, Rochester, ME1 1SX
Multiple times available; tickets £35 each
To book a ticket, please visit: https://www.winegardenofengland.co.uk/events/wine-garden-of-england-wine-tasting-at-rochester-cathedral-53368/

28th November : Water Resources on Your Farm
Championing the Farmed Environment and PROWATER invite you to a free workshop, including the latest initiatives and support for water provision and protection.  Water is vital to farming and growing efficiently and competitively, but water availability and quality in the South East are critical.  Hear talks on: “water resources – building resilience for an uncertain future;” “regulation, incentives and advice for soil and water;” “developing payments for improving water infiltration and storage;” and “water use and management in a major soft fruit enterprise.”
The Fruit Rooms, Hugh Lowe Farms, Mereworth ME18 5NE
This is a FREE event, but booking is essential
10am to 3pm, including lunch
To book, please contact: Paul Cobb on 07713 333 160 / 01233 813 186  or email paul.cobb@fwagsoutheast.co.uk

2nd December : Cover Cropping for Clean Water and Profitable Farming
FWAG South East and Affinity Water are holding a free event at their Kent cover crop trials site.  You are invited to view this year’s plots and hear the latest on the benefits of different mixes, their agronomy and management into the following grop.  BASIS & NRoSO points applied for.  The morning will begin with breakfast and short presentations before visiting the nearby trial plots (by kind permission of Dough Taylor, Hope Farm).
Find out about the impact cover crops have on water movement and winter nitrogen losses from land with real data; hear about the latest on farm specialist advice available from CSF, and listen to Hertfordshire farmer Ian Waller’s experiences on zero tillage arable farming, including grazing management of cover crops.
Alkham Village Hall, Alkham CT15 7BU
This is a FREE event, but booking is essential
8.30am to 12.30pm, including breakfast
To book, please contact Paul Cobb on 07713 333 160 / 01233 813 186 or email paul.cobb@fwagsoutheast.co.uk

3rd December : Carols at Christmas
Raising money for R.A.B.I.  and FCN

For children and adults of all ages, in the cattle ring at Ashford market.  Music and singing, nativity play with real animals and real smells, free mulled wine and mince pies.  Raffle for a Christmas hamper, donated by Perry Court Farm Shop.  Courtesy of Hobbs Parker.
The Cattle Ring, Ashford Market, Kent TN24 0HB
Entry is completely free, dress warmly.
For further information: Richard Beaugie on 01233 732 580 or randjbeaugie@gmail.com

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