A female farmer has been recognised by the farming and conservation industry for her outstanding efforts to promote good habitat management on the farm she runs in the South Downs National Park. Annie Brown of Lower Paythorne and Perching Manor Farms, Sussex, is the first woman to receive the highly-coveted ‘Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group National Silver Lapwing Award’ in its 38 year history.
Annie Brown (centre) along with the other Silver Lapwing finalists (c. FWAG East)
The award, generously sponsored by Waitrose for the seventh year running, recognises farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside in which they farm. Annie was chosen from a national shortlist of five farms, each selected for demonstrating outstanding commitment to good environmental practices, alongside the production of food.
The 2015 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award was presented to Annie Brown on Wednesday 3rd June by The Rt Hon Sir Jim Paice DL and Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of Buying and Agriculture Strategy, at a ceremony hosted by Ashley Cooper, the 2014 Silver Lapwing recipient, at his farm in Gestingthorpe, Essex.
Upon receiving the award, Annie said:
“It is a privilege to have won this award. We’ve all put a huge amount of effort into creating a commercial farm which also makes space for nature and we value the help and advice we have had from organisations such as FWAG along the way. What we’ve got now is a farm business that will be sustainable for generations to come - and that feels good.”
Annie also paid tribute to her farm manager David Ellin (who was unable to attend the event) describing him as “The most committed farm manager we could have found”.
She added, “Thank you to FWAG and the sponsors for putting on this fantastic event.”
Charles Beaumont, FWAG Silver Lapwing Award Judge, explained why Annie made a deserving winner:
“The judges felt that Paythorne Farm stood out because of the clarity with which Annie Brown had identified the big issues facing the farm and the coherent plan she then formulated to address the problems. The plan is clearly having a strong effect and is a fine example of how the best conservation so often occurs on the best managed commercial farms.”
A wild bird seed mixture at Lower Paythorne Farm (c. Hayley New)
Presenting the award, Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of Buying and Agriculture Strategy, said:
“Once again, we are delighted to have been presented with an outstanding shortlist of finalists and again the decision has been a tough one. It is always impressive to see the foresight, innovation and care that farmers apply to their conservation strategies and the way they are so willing to open their farm gates to the local community and beyond, so everyone can enjoy what they have achieved”.
Joe Martin, Chairman of the FWAG Association, said:
“This longstanding national award, now in its 38th year, celebrates the environmental achievements of farmers. It showcases just what can be achieved on a typical farm with passion, dedication and sound, independent farm advice. We hope the award will inspire other farmers to go on to achieve great things for wildlife on their own farms.”