Farmers from the Lonco Brook catchment met up to launch a new group that will work to improve the environment around them. Fifteen farmers attended the initial meeting of the group on 12 December 2016 and heard Chris Seabridge outline the challenges he sees facing farmers in managing land to meet consumer and social demands whilst maintaining viable businesses. He explained his belief that farmers need to organise themselves to meet these challenges and that this group, with support from Natural England, offers them an opportunity to get started.
Natural England has provided funding support to farmer groups, also known as farmer clusters, who will work together to achieve aims wider than the boundaries of their farms. Severn Trent Water are also strongly supportive of groups based in their drinking water safeguard zones. Both bodies provide grants to farmers and both came along to support the meeting and tell group members about the grants available. Farmers heard presentations from Severn Trent Water explaining the importance of the catchment for drinking water supply and the grant schemes they have available to help reduce diffuse pollution from agricultural land whilst Ken Downward explained the Catchment Sensitive Farming grants available from Natural England.
Nick Galbraith volunteered to become Chair of the group and will work with his steering group, Tim Belcher and Piers Bratton, together with Chris to develop a programme of events that will help farmers acheive the group’s aims.
The Lonco Brook catchment group has 16 members farming 2352 hectares, who aim to reduce the losses of nutrients and pesticides from their land as well as to enhance habitats and wildlife. They hope to expand by signing up other farmers in the catchment.