I recently attended a meeting at a local village hall. There were two local farmers speaking, along with an agronomist and the facilitator of the area’s farmer cluster group.

It was a miserable Tuesday evening, but there must have been over 40 members of the local community there. They were genuinely interested in what the local farmers were doing, what issues they were having to contend with, and how they were planning to adapt to become more resilient.

It was nice to see the local farmers have a platform to showcase the work they are doing through Countryside Stewardship, whether this be habitat creation and resource provision, or educational visits. They could express that they share the same concerns in terms of water quality as the local residents do (this is an area with beautiful chalk streams) and what steps they are taking to help with this.

There wasn’t any vitriol; it was a pleasant, information sharing event and a reminder that the general public are genuinely interested in what is happening around them. Having these open meetings or performing some outreach as a farmer cluster is clearly a beneficial thing to do.

The hope of the organisers of this meeting is that it could lead to a bit more collaboration; perhaps some guided walks around the village, locals helping with biodiversity surveys, or more direct sales from the farmers to the residents. I know there were some concerns leading up to the event and it took some time to make it happen, but hopefully the potential benefits of such a forum could be seen by all involved.