Thame & Chilterns Farmers Forum

March 30, 2022

This month we hosted the first Thame & Chilterns Farmers Forum which brought together farmers and land managers of four farmer clusters (Thame Valley, Lower Thame, Central Chilterns, and Christmas Common) covering over 20,000 ha across 75 farms. Representatives from over 10 different organisations including Defra, the Environment Agency, the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, Linking Environment And Farming, Natural England, Chilterns Conservation Board, and Pasture For Life were in attendance. The event, held at the Windmill Hill Archive at Waddesdon Estate, was made possible through funding from the Rothschild Foundation.

The Thame & Chilterns Farmers Forum was held as part of our Trust’s ongoing project, Engaging with Farmers in the Thame Catchment (funded by the Environment Agency), which aims to increase collaborative working to the benefit of farm practices as well as the environment. Working at scale will facilitate environmental improvements by providing better access to support, information, and specialist expertise. We hope that this event, and other activities undertaken as part of this project, will support land managers to access funding opportunities that could deliver some ambitious landscape-scale habitat improvement works, such as floodplain restoration or the creation of wildlife and pollinator corridors.

To further increase the impact of the discussions generated at the Farmers Forum, and to give local land managers a voice in the development of the future of farming, comments from the event were collected as part of an ongoing Defra Test & Trial being conducted by the Pilio Group, River Thame Conservation Trust, and Pasture for Life. Defra Test & Trials are being conducted across the UK to test and develop elements of the upcoming Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS).

Farmers and land managers heard the latest update from Defra on aspects of the upcoming Environmental Land Management schemes which will pay farmers for natural friendly farm practices that provide clean water & air, thriving wildlife, and carbon reductions. Attendees also heard from our local Catchment Sensitive Farming advisors from Natural England’s Thames Solent Area Team who will work with farmers to reduce fertilizer, pesticide, and sediment runoff in the Thame catchment.

Local farmers show-cased how they are already taking action for nature through a series of inspiring lightning talks on topics as diverse as wetland creation, planting trees, regenerative farming, hedgerow planting, and restoring and creating farm ponds. To promote peer-to-peer learning and encourage cross-farm collaboration, a series of breakout group sessions were held, covering topics like measuring carbon & biodiversity, how to find guidance on nature friendly farming, and working together at a landscape scale. These discussions identified key priorities for land managers including increasing knowledge sharing between farmers, reducing pollution in waterways, creating and connecting hedgerows, and improving soil health. We look forward to how the discussions sparked at the event will carry forward to create positive change for nature across the landscape.

Related News

Sign up to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our work with quarterly updates straight to your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

We will hold your data in accordance with GDPR law and you data will never be passed onto a third party without your prior permission.