Hats off to Henry

Henry is the first English winner of the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award having received the highest number of votes out of the 17,000 cast by members of the public.

Cholderton is a mixed organic farm, and their motto is 'sustainable agriculture in practice'.  Henry has spent over 30 years balancing modern agriculture and the preservation of the countryside.

On the farm Hampshire Downs sheep graze chalk grassland that is alive with flowers and buzzing with insects, including rare bumblebees, moths and butterflies. Corn bunting, lapwing and grey partridge thrive amongst the crops, alongside the diminutive harvest mice and rare arable plants such as cornflower and pheasant’s-eye.

This abundance of wildlife sits neatly alongside food production where the harvest delivers a healthy landscape, economy and environment.

Tracé Williams, speaking for the RSPB in Wiltshire, said: “Cholderton Estate is an impressive example of what it’s possible to achieve for wildlife within a commercial farming system, and shows that conservation needn’t clash with profitability.”

Henry Edmunds said; 'I am delighted to win the Nature of Farming award for 2012.  This represents the culmination of many years of habitat improvement on the Cholderton Estate.  The whole process has been underpinned by the organic farming regime which has allowed many rare and endangered plants, birds and butterflies to flourish. 

“The farming system is based on permanent and temporary grassland with mixed cropping, with an emphasis on sustainability.  Large areas of chalk downland are being restored and populations of ground nesting birds like Lapwings are encouraged and protected.”

Careful management has seen lapwing numbers increasing, and the Estate also supports turtle doves. Over 450 moth species have been recorded, 10% of which are classed as UK rarities. Woodlands have also managed to attract back the Duke of Burgundy Fritillary; a rare butterfly that has been recorded in three separate areas across the farm.

Mr Edmunds added; “I am grateful for the advice and support I have received over the years from both the RSPB and Natural England, together with much encouragement and help from many interested and knowledgeable people.  And of course I would like to thank the many people who voted for me.'

The Nature of Farming Awards 2012 is sponsored by The Telegraph, and supported by Plantlife and Butterfly Conservation. The Award is funded by the EU Life+ Programme, safeguarding the future of our farmland birds under the EU Birds Directive.

The other Nature of Farming Award finalists this year were:

Rob Allan from Oxfordshire farms sustainably, delivering food for us and for wildlife. He is passionate about the huge range of diverse habitats supporting wildlife on his estate such as barn owls, corn buntings, skylarks and tree sparrows.

Jack Kelly from County Down successfully integrates conservation into the management of a small mixed farm, using traditional methods. Here, linnets, reed buntings, tree sparrows and yellowhammers all thrive.

Peter Knight from West Sussex runs a mixed farm that sees conservation at its core. Farming and conservation complement each other here, through an ethic of “more output, less impact”. Peter uses his knowledge and passion to affect lasting change.