Lake District beef farmer Paul Barnes has been crowned the “Very Best in Farming Education” at the Farming and Countryside Education and Bayer CropScience awards.

Judges said Mr Barnes’ small beef farm at Blackwood Farm, Keswick, was a natural classroom. At an awards ceremony in London on 19 September, the judges said scores of children are inspired to learn all about the wildlife he has actively encouraged on his farm – from otters to hen harrriers and marsh fritillary butterflies.

Students learn about food as well and involve themselves in practical work which contributes to the management of this habitat, they said.

Mr Barnes added: “It’s 23 years since I started this effort with no money, working full-time for others. Now young people have the chance to learn new skills, approaches, ideas and environmental respect. It’s a sustainable approach to education and when people leave, many of them have made a true connection with the environment.”

In presenting his Award, FACE president Lord Henry Plumb summed up the endeavours of the award winners with a quote by Winston Churchill: “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

The Awards

Biodiversity Award and Very Best in Education – Paul Barnes, Blackwood Farm, Keswick, Cumbria

Encouraging and inspiring young people about farming and wildlife.

Countryside Careers – David Rose, Clark Farms, Bingham, Notts

Demonstrating outstanding contribution to an understanding of careers in the countryside.

Access Award – Lydia Otter, Pennyhooks Farm Near Swindon, Wilts

Outstanding achievement in encouraging pupils with special needs, disaffected students and disadvantaged students to visit the farm.

Innovative Learning Award – Elspeth Walker, Under Whittle Farm, Buxton, Developing and implementing new learning experiences that have inspired and encouraged young people.

Farm to Classroom – Phil Smallwood, Greenheyes Farm, Bostock, Cheshire

Outstanding contribution to school life away from the farm.

Andrew Orme, managing director of Bayer CropScience, said: “We are delighted to work with FACE to celebrate the very best in farming education. We believe that as key suppliers to the farming industry, we should play a role in promoting the work that farmers are doing in their communities..”

And Janet Hickinbottom, head of education at FACE, added: “Children, young people and their families have become disassociated with where their food comes from and do not know what constitutes a healthy diet. By reintroducing children to the countryside we can show them the opportunities rural sites hold for both leisure and employment.”

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