THE North Pennines AONB Partnership in partnership with the Farmer Network, held a farmer information session within the Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) area.

The event aimed to help farmers prepare for the changes in farming support, from the Basic Payment Scheme to payments for Public Goods, as well as to look at opportunities available through the North Pennines AONB Partnership and other organisations.

The LPS, led by the North Pennines AONB Partnership and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is a major project to conserve, enhance and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of a special part of the North West of England, which stretches from the Cumbrian fellside of the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark to the River Eden, and runs north from Melmerby to Hallbankgate.

The farmer information event was hosted at Clowsgill Holme, within the RSPB Geltsdale Reserve near Hallbankgate, by Ian Bell and Rebecca Dickens, and Ian Ryding from RSPB Geltsdale. The representatives providing information included: Tim Jacobs, North Pennines AONB Partnership, with details of the new Farming in Protected Landscapes (FIPL) funding; Jim O’Neill, Forestry Commission, with information on applying for the new Woodland Creation Planning Grant; Kate Gascoyne, the Farmer Network, provided details of The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, which helps farming families to assess their business figures and consider options for replacing some or all of their Basic Payment and also the Farmer Network Farming Ambition Programme, which helps young people with business planning and development. Nancy Tweddell, Farming Community Network, and David Newlove, Cumbria Agricultural Chaplaincy, also attended to get up to date with the changes affecting farming families and raise awareness that they are available when farming people need to talk to a sympathetic person who understands farmers and rural life.

The event included a farm walk to show hedges managed for bird habitat and wild plants as well as livestock shelter, and shallow scrapes created in one field to encourage birds to breed there. The issue of trees, hedges, and public footpaths reducing the success of some breeding wader birds was discussed, with the emphasis on planting the right tree in the right place. The outcome of careful winter and early-spring grazing was evident in the many wildflowers on the limestone banks which are providing food for insects and birds.