Group of people on a hillside
Group of people on a hillside

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Jenny  Walking Sheep Up Street
Jenny Walking Sheep Up Street

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Beekeepers examining a frame of bees
Beekeepers examining a frame of bees

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Group of people on a hillside
Group of people on a hillside

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  • Harriet Bell

Corndonford ELMs Farmer Meeting

On Monday the 24th of August about a dozen farmers gathered at a social distance in a barn to talk through ELMs. These are the notes from that discussion.

Host: Charlotte Faulkner

Facilitator: Joss Hibbs

Q1 What would you like to see supported within the theme of protect and enhance the environment?

  • Hedgerows

  • Butterflies e.g. Marsh fritillary, litle blue

  • Birds e.g. cuckoos, buzzards, curlew, pheasant, lapwing, migrant birds

  • Spitchwick common beetle

  • Slow worms

  • Adders

  • Plants e.g. orchids, species rich grasslands, marsh species, lichens

Q2 What would you like to see supported within the theme of promoting public access, enjoyment of the land and understanding?

  • Open access

  • Paradox is people and biodiversity conflict

  • Something which measures cars coming through [Dartmoor]

  • Enable greater access to farm space as a facility, more taylored individual expereince

  • Farm visits/guided walks

  • Anything educational, teaching people more about where their food comes from

  • Camping

Who would you go to for advice on this?

  • Mark Whiteside

  • Soil for Profit

  • We could form our own advisory committee

  • Create learning sites around Dartmoor

  • Dartmoor Hill Farm Project

  • The trouble is the advisors all have their own agendas and often disagree

  • Institute of Grassland Environmental Research

Q4 What would you like to see supported within the theme of cultural and natural heritage?

  • Hut circles

  • Stone row

  • Kists and cairns

  • Hedgerows

  • House, barns and walled gardens from different periods in history

  • Skills like hedge laying and walling

Q5 What would you like to see supported within the theme of soil?

  • Appropriate soil depends on what someone wants from the land

  • Soil managed for outcomes such as desired plants

  • Water retention – introduction of beavers

  • Bacteria levels

General discussion:

  • The scheme, if they want take up, is that is has to be simple and the price has to be right

  • If we're already doing all of this they never say we're ahead of the curve

Q6 What would you like to see supported in terms of native livestock and equines?

  • Dartmoor pony

  • Whiteface Dartmoor

  • South Devons

  • Scotttish Blackface

  • Galloways

Q7 What would you like to see supported within the theme of plant health – crops wild relatives of agricultural and horticultural plants?

  • Mushrooms

  • Whortleberries

  • Blackberries

Q8 Who would you to for advice?

  • Google/internet

  • Devon Wildlife Trust

  • Doing what you're currently doing if it's working

  • Previous generation

  • Duchy

  • Natural England

  • RSPB

  • Butterfly Conservation

Q9 How would you like to submit evidence under ELMs?

  • Photographs plus GPS

  • Agent will collate and submit

  • You need support every step of the way

  • Quadrats across the farm

  • Who is liable if you make changes based on advice which doesn't result in the right outcome?

General discussion:

  • The reason we've got the countryside we've got is because of generations who've wanted to be here and make it what it is. None of this reflects farming and if it is not what works for us we won't be here to do the job any more.

  • How do they feel about the average age of farming? What are they going to do if this puts off the next generation and just encourages farmers to retire? This could make it harder for new entrants.

  • Climate has a much bigger effect on butterflies than what farmers do. So how can we be expected to help them if the global population isn't looking after the climate?

  • One of the things that's not on there but should be is for more promotion of understanding of farming by the government to the general public.

  • It should be part of the curriculum.

  • We'd have school groups on our farms, insurance permitting.

Q9 If you could choose your paymaster who would it be?

  • Devon based body

  • Auctioneers

  • Qualified, unbiased and supportive of farming

  • RPA isn't close enough to the ground to understan reality

  • RPA don't have enough staff

  • RPA are docussing too much on computers, so they can't have the discernment of a person

  • Commoner's Council

  • They'd need to be responsive

  • The people who hand out the scheme should be collecting in the evidence

  • A specialist evaluating Dartmoor specifically

  • The right body doesn't exist

  • The body should be made up of a representative cross section of Dartmoor

  • But this scheme isn't about farming?

  • We need conservationists as well

  • People who know conservation and Dartmoor and farmers

  • Dissenting Voice (DV): Why do we need a new body?

  • They need to be reactive, understanding and not pedantic

  • In the past they always assume that we're trying to cheat the system, they're always waiting with a big stick

  • If you make an agreement with people they shouldn't be able to change the agreement on you

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