A large intensive salad growing business in the heart of the Cambridgeshire fens has won the 2022 FWAG East Farm Conservation Award, showing that intensive production can go hand in hand with nature conservation.
Cambs Farms Growers, owned by Charles Shropshire, is a 5,000 hectare farm producing both conventional and organic salad and vegetable crops at Barway near Ely.
Speaking at the awards event (held at Tuffon Hall Vineyard in Essex), Judge and FWAG East Chair, Matt Doggett, said “Cambs Farms Growers is very proactive in evolving the conservation aspects of the business, from creating habitats at scale, to regenerative soil management, to public engagement through the Ely Nature Friendly Farming Network and Open Farm Sunday. We saw a very large mix of habitats from wild bird mix to pollen and nectar, hedgerow management to fallows.”
Matt (who won the award for his Hertfordshire farm in 2021) continued: “Along with an impressive 11 miles of interconnected wildlife corridors which wend their way through the farm, they have created two very large wetlands for wading birds. Water voles, barn owls, otters, marsh harriers, oyster catchers and lapwing are all thriving. There was also the understanding that tidy is not great for everything. Ditches and verges that don’t need to be flailed are left to provide the long grass and flowers that so much requires.”
The award was presented to Cambs Farms Growers Conservation Manager Stewart McIntyre by Judge Shaun Dowman, Agricultural Advisor at Affinity Water.
Stewart said “Tonight has been a very enjoyable evening and to then take the award was a delight. The wider team were all excited to hear the news this morning, especially the Shropshire family!
Thank you to FWAG East for your help and support, such a positive and incredibly rewarding role we all have in managing our wonderful countryside!”
The winning farm was judged alongside two other strong contenders for the award. Bowes Lyon’s Estates at St Paul’s Walden, Herts and Lord Rayleigh’s Farms at Terling near Chelmsford, Essex, both impressed the judges with their regenerative approach to farming and clear passion for conservation management. We extend our congratulations to all.
We would like to thank host Angus Crowther and the Tuffon Hall staff for a very enjoyable farm walk and wine tasting and Hawkspur Chartered Surveyors for their kind sponsorship of the event.
Cambs Farms Growers will now go forwards to the regional judging rounds, the winners of which will enter the final for the coveted national FWAG Silver Lapwing Award 2023.