On Wednesday (31 July) the Earl and Countess of Wessex presented the first CLA and New Forest National Park Authority awards for Young Farmer & Commoner and Best Supporter of Local Produce.
33 year old Lee Winter from Fritham was awarded the Young Farmer & Commoner award which was designed and made by local sculptor Bill Prickett. Lee attended Sparsholt agricultural college and has built up an agricultural contracting business providing a valuable service for many of the small farms in the area, including making hay and silage, clearing barns and sowing crops. Last year the family business F. Winter and Son combined with Lee's business, which now employs two local workers. Lee, his grandfather, father and sons are all active commoners.
On receiving the award Lee said: "I was born into commoning and farming – with my father and grandfather before me. The farm I have got now I took on when I was 24 and now we try to help others coming through as much as we can, just as I had help when I started. I'm very proud to receive the award – we're very pleased."
The second award for the best supporter of local produce was presented to Jane Overall and Andy Alvis who run the farm shop at Setley Ridge near Brockenhurst. The award was made by New Forest craftsman Nick Barberton. Both Jane and Andy are passionate about supporting local producers and providing the best experience of local New Forest & Hampshire produce under one roof. Jane bakes all the cakes, scones and fudge and Andy creates the ready-meals, all available in the shop which is open daily.
Jane Overall said: "It is very important that more people recognise local produce and support local producers. It's a very hard market and there are a lot of small producers who are struggling and we try to support them in the farm shop. There is such a wealth of local produce in the New Forest and it is so diverse - from pork and beef to people turning local fruit and veg into chutneys and jams. When he presented us with the award Prince Edward was very interested in local produce, particularly educating people about it, and he was charming."
CLA regional director Robin Edwards said: "It is essential to showcase the opportunities available to young farmers in the area and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit needed to be a successful young farmer these days. There are benefits of local food nutritionally and also in boosting the local economy and we are pleased to be able to commemorate Setley Ridge Farm Shop as an exemplar."
New Forest National Park Authority chief executive Alison Barnes said: "'Lee, Jane and Andy are an inspiration to all in the Forest. Their commitment to commoning and local produce makes a huge contribution to securing the Forest for future generations and we hope that many more will follow in their footsteps. The work they do maintains what is truly unique about this area and by buying local produce and recognising the importance of commoning everyone can play their part."
Both awards were presented in special recognition of the hard work of the two winners. Next year there will be a full nomination and judging process to find 2014's Young Farmer & Commoner and the Best Supporter of Local Produce.
For more images please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clasoutheast/
The Young Farmer & Commoner Award is a wren trophy and has been donated by sculptor Bill Prickett www.billprickett.co.uk
The Best Supporter of Local Produce Award is a turned wooden bowl made by New Forest craftsman Nick Barberton www.nickbarberton.co.uk/