IT’s not long now until we find out who are the region’s farming heroes in our Three Counties Awards.

We will be broadcasting the awards ceremony at 7pm on November 26 via our Facebook page and in the run-up we are taking a look at the finalists in each category.

Here are those in the running for the Conservation award sponsored by The Countryside Restoration Trust:


Looking after the past and training for the future is what they do at Hartpury College Farm – all while running a tremendously efficient business.

The college, on the outskirts of Gloucester, has been doing much in the way of conservation.

A partnership with the Woodland Trust has seen more than 2,000 trees planted, including restoring an historic perry orchard and developing wetland woodland areas.

Environmental strips are encouraging wildlife activity - predominantly birds and insects. There is a Nectar Flower Mix; Winter Food Mix; and Legume and Herd Rich Swards.

Strategically selected hedgerows have been laid, to encourage development as a habitat for wildlife.

Meanwhile native breed sheep and cattle graze pastures, while Livestock Exclusion Zones have been implemented on scrub and successional areas

Fencing off of ponds and wet-lying areas has been focused around trees, and owl and bat boxes have been installed in these areas.

And all this while 16-18 year olds and upwards get the chance to gain practical experience.


A REGENERATIVE-farming approach to a one-acre, no-dig market garden has earned Oxton Organics a place in the final shortlist for the Conservation award

The tiny but diverse market garden is nurtured with a compost mulch to build healthy soil and is zero till.

It is central to the organic fruit and veg business run by Jake Eldridge at Broadway Lane, Fladbury, Worcestershire.

The garden yields an abundance of nutritious fruit and vegetables which are supplied direct to about 80 households every week through a box scheme, as well as to local restaurants and retailers.

Another 11 acres are ecologically managed through habitat creation, tree planting in functional agroforestry designs and grazing from a small flock of sheep, to provide maximum biodiversity and habitat.

“All of our enterprises are designed in a way that builds soil, builds habitat and sequesters carbon,” said Jake, who recently planted more than 1,500 trees. More are in the pipeline.

“In our vegetable production area our soil organic matter has increased by two per cent whilst providing sustainable employment for farm workers without subsidy,” added Jake.


James Hawkins has been working for 18 years with wildlife conservation at the core of his mixed farming system, embracing Stewardship schemes and doing much more voluntarily.

His current focus is on creating wildflower grassland and diverse herbal leys on half of his farm to benefit wildlife and the health of his soil and livestock.

Other projects include orchard, pond and hedgerow restoration.

He relishes the opportunity to talk to visitors about what he’s doing and is a great ambassador for farming.

As chairman of Bromyard Downs Commoners Association he is key to restoring the Downs where he has helped reintroduce grazing and encouraged many local volunteers to get involved.

He brings this same ethos to his chairmanship of Herefordshire Meadows, a discussion group of 60 farmers / smallholders who he encourages to exchange best practice in an open and inclusive way.

He does all this alongside producing quality beef and lamb, rape seed oil, damson vinegar and much more.

For more on the awards go to