You may know that FWAG SouthWest’s Farming & Wildlife annual awards recognise commercial farms that have successfully combined food production with sustainability, environmental protection and wildlife gains. The competitions are a highlight of our calendar, and an opportunity to build strong relationships between farmers and the wider community, showcasing the wonderful conservation work many farmers carry out across the south west.

We made the decision to halt normal proceedings this year, to keep our farmers and judges safe. In it's place, 'A Photo From Your Farm' 2021 competition took place earlier this year, and we had an incredible number of wonderful and inspirational photos, showcasing just how much our farmers in the south west love what they do! Our judges had a very difficult time of it, but they found a very worthy winner, and some brilliant runner's up...

1st Place: Jim Mawle, Devon

 

Photo on the left is of a young leveret, taken in  spring 2020. Jim explained that it is "always a joy to witness, and numbers are thriving with a mixed diet, habitat creation and protection". The photo on the right shows a recently established flower rich plot in the foreground, adjoined by a winter bird food mix, providing huge nectar and food availability and year round benefits.

Jim's farm showcases the harmony between commercial farming, environmental and species enhancement and protection. These can work hand in hand, for the greater good and we are really looking forward to hosting a farm walk with Jim in early spring 2022 and seeing all of these things in action! Huge congratulations Jim.

 

2nd Place: Ian Boyd, Gloucestershire

 

The photo on the left showcases a Barn Owl. A pair of Barn Owls nest and hunt in an isolated and under-grazed valley on the farm. The grass is thick and long, ideal habitat for Field Voles. This Barn Owl was still hunting the valley at dawn and it was caught in the first rays of sunlight against the dark valley side. The right picture is of a Glow Worm. There is a S.S.S.I. on the farm that has never been cultivated or fertilized. A trip there after dark in July revealed to Ian that there were 6 Glow Worms, showing up like beacons in the long grass as they tried to lure in a mate. Rarely do you ever see the whole Glow Worm and they were very tricky to photograph.

Fantastic photos Ian, well done!

 

3rd Place: Jane Barber, Devon

 

Photo on the left is looking down over 'the banks' almost central to the farm. They are permanent pastures and low input fields. The right image shows the Dexter cows and Dexter x Devon cows enjoying the variety of grass in what Jane calls the 'flippy flappy' meadow, as it is full of flippy flappy things during the summer. They are kept out until mid August and love it when allowed in.

Looks absolutely idyllic Jane!

 

4th Place: Julia Staughton, Cornwall

 

The left photo shows one of Julia's breeding Barn Owls, which she seldom sees out in daylight. To Julia's amazement, as she turned into a gateway intending to check grass growth for some visiting lambs, she saw the owl sitting on the gate looking into the hedge! The right photo shows the Jacob sheep in their full wool in May. Sheep never pose, but these ones do. Julia has kept them for 37 years and this group are the shearlings and retired ewes. The views I have across my fields stretch over the wooded Fowey River valley up to Bodmin Moor. 

 

5th Place: Andrew Hughes, Devon

 

In the picture on the left, Andrew was told that there was some activity around an old badger set and set up a hide a few days before the shot. The whole family came out of the earth and this cub in particular, was enjoying the early morning sun. The right picture shows a bee collecting pollen from an Ox-eye Daisy. There are a number of wild flower meadows on the farm and also a couple of Bee Hives.

 

A huge congratulations to the five farmers above. Thank you for your hard work and care for the land that you farm and the wildlife that lives there. We would like to say an additional thank you to all those who took part in the competition this year - your love for farming shines through in the pictures that you sent. A photo from each entrant, in alphabetical order, is below:

 

Lucas Ashland, Cornwall

 

Kay Blake, Cornwall

 

Adam Bratt, Devon

 

Fiona Caspersen

 

Matt Cox, Devon

 

Andrew Ferguson, Hampshire

 

Cat Frampton, Devon

 

William Gauntlett, Wiltshire

 

Gay Colston, Somerset