A Kent farmer who produces organic, Pasture for Life beef and lamb on species-rich land has been presented with a top conservation award.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents hundreds of farmers, landowners and rural businesses across the county, awarded its Emsden Trophy last night (Thursday, 14 July).
The awards presentation and drinks reception was hosted at the Offham site of the 2021 trophy winner, Laurence J Betts Ltd, which also has sites at Yalding and Hadlow.
The 2022 recipient is Fidelity Weston of Romshed Farm near Sevenoaks, as nominated by Kent Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG). She was praised as a “shining example of conservation in the service of food production” and is well-known for working with others to spread positive messaging around farming and sustainable food practices.
Mrs Weston said: “I feel very strongly that farming and conservation can, and should be, firm partners in the production of our food. At home we produce our organic, Pasture for Life beef and lamb in pastures teaming with insects, surrounded by thick hedgerows and small woodland shaws that harbour a huge range of species, from dormice to barn owls and other iconic species.
“We are using electric fencing to fence off areas to develop scrub against woodland and enable us to move our cattle and sheep every few days benefitting the soil and wildlife. Farming can be done in a way that supports and encourages biodiversity both above ground and in our soils, and we as farmers should be seen as the solution and not the problem.
“As an active member of Pasture for Life I hope I can continue to promote the benefits of bringing conservation and farming together, to ensure we get the right policies in place to support farming into the future.
“Awards such as the Emsden trophy promote the importance and value of this, and I feel very honoured to be awarded this trophy.”
Kent FWAG adviser Paul Cobb said: “Romshed Farm has been a shining example of conservation in the service of food production over many years. Fidelity has worked tirelessly with neighbours and other organisations to achieve this, as well as showing a wider audience and especially the younger generation the benefits.
“I am delighted to nominate her to receive the Emsden trophy in 2022.”
CLA South East Regional Director Tim Bamford said: “Many congratulations to Fidelity, who is a very worthy winner. The CLA is always thrilled to recognise the conservation and environmental efforts of farmers in Kent, and this year is no different.
“Farmers and landowners across the Garden of England are custodians of the landscape, as well as helping to feeding the nation, and we’re proud to celebrate their work in this small way.
“Thank you to Laurence J Betts Ltd for hosting the tour and presentation, and we’re already looking forward to visiting Romshed Farm next summer to see first-hand the impressive work they do.”
The event, which is supported by BTF Partnership, is held in memory of Brigadier Brian Emsden, the Kent and Sussex CLA Regional Secretary in the 1980s who died of cancer in post. He was very keen on wildlife and conservation, hence the award in his name.