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New farmer group in the Churnet Valley offers to boost prospects for farming and wildlife

A bid for the Churnet Valley to Natural England's Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund has been successful. This is great news for both the environment and land managers as it brings a new approach for effecting conservation farming in the valley over the next 3 years. The aim of the Facilitation Fund is to bring farmers, foresters and land managers together to help them collaborate so that landscape benefits for the natural environment can be delivered.

There is a large amount of interest in the new group with 28 members already having joined. The 28 are a mix of local farmers and land managers whose joint landholdings cover 1430 hectares of the Churnet Valley area. The group is being managed and supported by three "facilitators", Ann Cantrell, Jane Clowes and Frances Horsford, who will be organising activities, workshops and events on agricultural and priority environmental issues for woodlands, water, grasslands and farmland birds.

Opportunities for networking, sharing knowledge and expertise, and partnership working will be provided, and the hope is that the group will open up new funding avenues to help farming and managing land become more environmentally and financially sustainable.

All events are funded through the Facilitation Fund and are free to members of the group. Membership is open to land managers in the "Churnet Valley Focus Area" from Leek to Rocester, so anyone interested in joining to take advantage of this exciting opportunity, can contact the group’s facilitators on:, or call 07729101574 to find out more. You can also follow the group on Twitter @ChurnetFarmers.

The group will be holding a welcome reception on Friday 23rd March at Foxt Village Hall, Foxt from 7pm. If you would like to attend please contact the facilitators.