A Farm Walk took place at Dennings Down Farm, Axminster, on the afternoon of Wednesday 16th May 2018 to present Hamish Bengough with the Devon Bronze Otter Award for the remarkable and innovative conservation work he is undertaking on his farm. Devon’s Bronze Otter Award showcases the long-term commitment to wildlife conservation and sustainable farming shown by many farmers across the county.

Roland Stonex, FWAG SouthWest Farm Conservation Adviser and George Greenshields, independent ecologist, who have both worked closely with Hamish at Dennings Down, lead the Farm Walk. Dennings Down is a family-run, organic livestock farm on the edge of Blackdown Hills AONB. The farm has a large area of unimproved neutral and calcareous grassland recognised as a County Wildlife Site, which is sympathetically managed by cattle grazing and scrub management. The site supports some notable species such as Dyers greenweed, yellow-wort, fairy flax and pyramidal orchids. The farm also has a significant area of Ancient semi-natural woodland, alongside hedgerows, ponds, traditional orchard, scrub and bracken slopes which have all been maintained to a high standard under the farm’s Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier agreement.  The pasture-based farming system has a strong focus on maintaining a healthy and biologically active soil, and Hamish is currently trialling ‘herbal’ swards, fields rich in legumes and herbs in partnership with Duchy College and Reading university.

The award was presented by John Whetman, who has been involved with FWAG for over 30 years, and is coordinator and head judge of the Devon Bronze Otter annual competition.

Hamish said on winning the award; 'it was a great honour to be presented with the Devon Bronze Otter for the farm. I really enjoyed talking to other likeminded farmers and showing them the farm, which led to some really interesting conversation. It has given me lots of extra encouragement'

If you would like any more information on the competitions across the South West, or you would like to enter or nominate someone else, take a look at our county competitions page here, or our Regional Barn Owl page here.