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Cheshire farming couple are top of the class

Youngsters in North West England are discovering more about what goes on behind the scenes at a modern farm, thanks to the efforts of an award-winning Cheshire farming family and the help of Natural England.

The hard work and enthusiasm of Liz and Graham Warburton, who run Warburtons Farms in Cheshire, was recently recognised with a prestigious award from the Cheshire Farms Competition Society. Mr & Mrs Warburton received the ‘Farming Ambassador Award’ at a gala awards ceremony in Nantwich where they were praised for their services to agriculture and commended for providing educational access to their farm for the region’s youngsters.

Mr & Mrs Warburton open the farm gates to school groups all year round and the children know them as ‘Farmer Liz’ and ‘Farmer Graham’. The educational visits are supported with funding through the Educational Access options of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, which helps farmers provide access and understanding of the countryside.

Liz said “We are getting quite a fan base of children that come on visits from as far afield as Liverpool and Manchester.  During their visit, a group can enjoy anything from a trailer ride around the meadows, to finding out about the seasonal jobs that we do around the farm.  The children like to see our animals and we always have chicks in the spring, but one of the favourite things is picking their own potatoes and taking them home.”

Other farm activities include machinery demonstrations, crop picking and bird watching, with species to be seen on the farm including yellowhammers, tree sparrows, skylarks and barn owls.

Liz added: “Spring is a great time to visit the farm, see the animals and learn about farming and wildlife as well as the natural environment.  It’s a fun and fascinating day out and it’s all linked up to the school curriculum too, so the children are learning as they go. Thanks to the Educational Access options in our HLS agreement we have been able to open up our farm for school visits and we get a huge amount of satisfaction from showing the children what goes on behind the scenes in running a successful, modern farm.”

Farmers who join the HLS scheme may be eligible for funding to help them encourage schools to visit the farms and provide new educational facilities.

The farm has been in the Higher Level Stewardship scheme since November 2006 and the HLS is also helping the couple to deliver effective environmental management of the arable and beef farm.  In 2010, the Warburtons were named as regional winners of the Beautiful Farm Awards, in recognition of their work to preserve the countryside and wildlife on their land.

With support from the HLS scheme, Liz and Graham manage a diverse range of habitats on the farm for a wide range of farmland birds and conservation work on the farm also includes the restoration and planting of hedgerows, creation new ponds and tree planting.

For more information about educational visits to Depmore and Hatley Farm please call Liz and Graham Warburton on 01928 788329

For more information about the Funding for Access Options in Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme click on HLS funding for access options.

Further information

For further information, please contact:
David Hirst, Natural England press office on 0300 0601720 or email
Liz and Graham Warburton, Hatley and Depmore Farms on 01928 788329

Depmore and Hatley Farm - What there is to see and do:

Set in the beautiful Cheshire countryside, Hatley Farm and Depmore Farm are two farms run as one by the Warburton Brothers, Graham and Geoff.

The farm is approx 800 acres, mostly arable, growing wheat, barley, oilseed rape, potatoes and grass. You will be able to see the full range of farming operations depending on the time of year.

The farm has two Sites of Biological Importance (SBIs) and there is a wide range of wildlife, ponds, and bird habitat. Farm activities include machinery demonstrations, meadows, potato grading, farmland birds and picking crops. Farm animals include: beef cattle, horses, sheep and lambs, chicks, goslings, ducks and kittens (depending on season).

Additional notes

Environmental Stewardship
Environmental Stewardship is administered by Natural England on behalf of Defra and funds farmers and land managers throughout England to deliver effective environmental management on their land. Environmental Stewardship builds on the earlier initiatives such as the Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas schemes.

The objectives of Environmental Stewardship are to:

  • Conserve biodiversity

  • Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character

  • Protect the historic environment and natural resources

  • Promote public access and understanding of the countryside

Environmental Stewardship has four elements; Entry Level Stewardship, Organic Entry Level Stewardship, Uplands Entry Level Stewardship and Higher Level Stewardship

About Natural England

Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

  • We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.

  • We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and advising on their conservation.

  • We run England’s Environmental Stewardship green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.

  • We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.

  • We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.

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