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15th September 2009 ECO FARMER SCOOPS FARMING AWARD..............
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The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Farming Awards fist place was won by Monmouthshire farmer Alan Morgan who received his award at the Monmouthshire Show. Now in their second year, the prestigious farming awards attracted entries from all over the Wye Valley AONB and this year the competition for farms under 100 hectares was hotly contested. The expert judging panel had a difficult decision to select the finalists in the weeks prior to the presentation ceremony.

Mike Williams confessed that it was a hard choice 'Choosing a winner this year was very difficult. All the farmers we visited were doing their best to look after the wildlife areas of their farms and, in different ways, were very involved with their local communities. The winning farm edged ahead of the others because we could see evidence of many years of regular conservation work. The farmer has identified all the important areas and all the potential for new habitats and he has methodically gone about managing these areas in the best way. The judges were very impressed.'

The three finalists Mike Johnson from Broome Farm, Herefordshire, John Childs from Cowshill Farm, Brockweir, Gloucestershire and Alan Morgan from Gadr Farm, Monmouthshire were treated to a day out at the show and Alan received his first prize of 500 together with 100 Countrywide vouchers and a specially designed trophy sculpted by Forest of Dean blacksmith Steve Bluett. Countrywide generously sponsored vouchers for the runners- up Broome Farm and Cowshill Farm.

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Alan Morgan is presented with 1st prize by Wye Valley AONB Officer, Andrew Blake.

Alan has farmed at Gadr, Llangovan for over 25 years and had built up an enviable reputation in environmental management, a challenging task in these uncertain days. The support he has received from a range of grants and awards has enabled him to develop the 25 acre ancient woodland site which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The Tir-Gofal scheme administered by the Welsh Assembly is now in its ninth year of a ten year grant and Better Woodlands for Wales , managed by the Forestry Commission, aids with woodland management and new woodland creation. Alan has also been successful in grant aid from the Wye Valley AONB Sustainable Development Fund, the Veteran Tree Management Scheme and the Landscape Management Grant In 2006 Gadr was voted runner -up in the Better Woodlands for Wales. In 2007 he was awarded the CPRW Rural Wales Award and this year gained the RSPB Nature of Farming Awards for Wales.

The farm is used regularly for educational school groups who take part in pond dipping and environmental activities. Alan is passionate about his wildlife management work: 'The environmental work has become part of farming practice here,' he said. 'There is a definite need for continuing financial support to enable farmers to carry out environmentally friendly farming. That is what the public wants and that is what the landscape needs.

There will be a chance to visit Gadr Farm in June when Alan, together with the Wye Valley AONB Unit, will be organizing a farm walk and environmental activities in conjunction with the national Open Farm Sunday on June 13. Make a date in your diary to come along and see a very special farm and some rather incredible conservation work.

If you are interested in environmental improvements to your farm then the Wye Valley AONB Unit can award cash grants towards landscape and biodiversity enhancement projects. The grants are made possible through funding from the Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England. For more information please contact Wye Valley AONB Development Officer Andrew Nixon on 01600 710841

Winner, Alan Morgen and runners up Mike Johnson and John Childs with expert judges, Stuart Thomas NFU representative and Vice Chairman of the Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee, Mike Williams Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, last year's Farming Awards winner, Henry Rudge from Ballingham Farm, Herefordshire and Andrew Blake, Wye Valley AONB Officer.

Mike Johnson of Broome Farm, John Childs of Cowshill Farm and Alan Morgan of
Gadr, Llangovan.

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