Councillor Phil Cutter, Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee Chairman, presented Mike with the first prize of £400, the Farming Award Trophy and the winner’s certificate. The 55 acre farm in Peterstow, home of the Ross-on-Wye Cider and Perry Company, is well known for producing a wide range of award winning ciders and perries.
Broome Farm produces mainly fruit having been shaped by the planting of orchards over the last 30 years, from its beginnings as a dairy, and more recently sheep, farm. There are now over 100 varieties of apples and pears, from which Mike and his team make an extensive range of ciders and perries, sold in their cider shop, the Yew Tree Pub and further afield. The pub is a recent addition to the business and plans are in place to encourage the wider use of its facilities by local groups.
Conservation on the farm is important for Mike, with a policy of minimal spraying which encourages biodiversity. 100 bird boxes have also been installed in the orchards, which act to encourage pest predation in a natural way.
The judges were impressed by the amount of community work taking place at the farm, including working with and fundraising for charities. Music and social events are also organised at the farm, the centrepiece of which is the Cider Festival which takes place at the end of the summer. Camping is available and facilities are currently being upgraded. Visitors from around the world are drawn to Broome Farm to speak with Mike about cider making and to taste the produce, always leaving with a good impression.
Square Farm near Mitchel Troy, was selected for the Highly Commended Award and received a cheque for £200. Run by Rob and Ryan Whittall, they farm organically over 180 acres, focussing on traditional farming methods, as well as running a farm shop open 3 days a week selling home grown organically produced food as well as produce from other local suppliers. Square Farm operates as a traditional mixed farm incorporating cattle, sheep, pigs, chicken, ducks and geese. Cereal and root crops are grown for animal feed and an increasing number of vegetable crops are produced to stock the farm shop, as well as a market stall. The shop also sells beef, lamb, pork and free range eggs from the farm.
Square Farm is 100% organic and is in the Glastir sustainable land management scheme. Hedgerows and fruit trees have been planted under the scheme, as well as fencing to exclude livestock from woodland and the installation of bat and dormouse boxes. There are 15 acres of low input grassland, and plans to continue conservation work in the future.
The Wye Valley AONB Farming Awards are now in their 9th year. Shortlisted farms were visited and judged by an experienced panel including Andrew Blake Wye Valley AONB Manager, David Price NFU Wales and Caroline Hanks farming and conservation consultant.
Andrew Blake commented “The judges were really impressed by the quality of the entrants for the 2016 AONB Farming Awards. All the shortlisted farms are making an outstanding contribution to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the Wye Valley. But the judges were particularly impressed with the environmental and community work that Mike carries out at Broome Farm.
“With farmland covering 65% of the Wye Valley AONB the Farming Awards are a great opportunity to promote the good work that farmers do in keeping the Wye Valley such a special place for so many people”.
A partnership between the AONB Unit, Ross-on-Wye Town Council and Natural England have started tree management work on the banks of the Wye where it passes through Ross, to benefit biodiversity and create river views.
If you are 14-18 years old and love exploring the countryside of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, then the Wye Valley AONB Youth Ranger programme is looking for you! Come along to our Taster Day on September 30th.