EXMOOR HILL FARMING NETWORK CIC IS LAUNCHED

The Exmoor Hill Farming Network has established itself as a Community Interest Company (CIC) and has been running as an independent, 100% farmer-led organisation since 1 February this year. The move  means greater independence for the Network, which already works with around 318 farming businesses, with opportunities to reinvest assets in the community and attract new sources of funding.

The newly appointed board consists of 11 directors and 4 advisory board members, led by Dave Knight, who has been Chair of the Network since its establishment 5 years ago.

Until now, the Network has been hosted and supported by North Devon +, an economic delivery agency for North Devon and Torridge, which runs a number of rural development programmes in the area.

Dave Knight said, “We are immensely proud of the progress the Network has made under the auspices of North Devon + so that it is trusted by farmers and other land-manging businesses in the Greater Exmoor areas as a source of valuable advice, training and support in these uncertain times. North Devon + has played a key role in this success and we hope to continue a close working relationship going forward.’’

The Network was established in early 2014 to improve the viability and sustainability of Exmoor farming businesses.  It does this through knowledge transfer, peer-group support, training, and co-operation to safeguard upland farming, rural employment and landscape management.  It has become one of the most sought-after initiatives on Exmoor, providing the ‘go-to hub’ of information and contacts for land-based businesses, overseen by its highly regarded Network Officer, Katherine Williams.

The majority of the costs of running the Network are met by funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Exmoor National Park Authority and North Devon Council, due to run until 31 January 2021. Other key partners and sponsors include Masons Kings, NFU, Dunster Show Society, Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auctions, Baldwins and Towergate Insurance. During the past 18 months, the Network steering group has undertaken a Governance Review set out by the Exmoor National Park Authority. The Group took advice from other organisations such as Farm Cornwall and The Cumbria Farmer Network, who operate a similar structure, to build confidence that a fully-fledged independent route was in the best interest of Exmoor’s farming communities.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said,It’s been a pleasure to see the Exmoor Hill Farming Network grow from strength to strength and we’re pleased to see them complete their independence through this next step. Having a strong voice for the farming community on Exmoor is vital to sustaining the traditional farming practices and ways of life that make our landscapes special. We look forward to continuing to support them in this next venture.”

Ken Miles and Jenny Wallace, Joint CEO’s, North Devon +, said, “The Exmoor Hill Farming Network has been a wonderful and truly innovative project that North Devon + has been involved with from the start.  It provides vital resources and support for the farming community and is a model for community involvement that others have followed.  We at North Devon + are really pleased to see it now flourishing and becoming independent and are proud of our role in the Network’s development.  We look forward to seeing how the Network develops further and to working with the Network in the future.”

The Network hub will remain at Cutcombe Market by kind permission of Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auctioneers and will continue to aid farmers with its flagship Exmoor’s Ambition project feeding into DEFRA’s Test and Trials of its new Environmental Land Management Scheme.

PHOTO: Representatives of EHFN CIC Board

RHS ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH STUDIOCANAL FOR THE SECRET GARDEN

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced a major collaboration with STUDIOCANAL to celebrate the forthcoming family film The Secret Garden. Set for release in April 2020, the film will be brought to life by the world’s leading gardening charity across its famed Gardens, Flower Shows and nationwide initiatives including the Campaign for School Gardening.

A new take on the much-loved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, THE SECRET GARDEN tells the story of Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx – Genius, The Little Stranger and A Royal Winter), a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents. When they die unexpectedly, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Academy Award® and BAFTA-winner Colin Firth – A Single Man, The King’s Speech, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Bridget Jones’s Baby) on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors, under the watchful eye of Mrs Medlock (BAFTA-winner Julie Walters – Mary Poppins Returns, Harry Potter, Mamma Mia) and with only  the household maid, Martha (Isis Davis – Guilt, Electric Dreams) for company. Mary begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly after meeting her sickly cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst – Genius, There She Goes), who has been shut away in a wing of the house, and through her discovery of a wondrous garden, locked away and lost within the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor. While searching for Hector, the stray dog who had led Mary to the garden walls, she befriends local boy Dickon (Amir Wilson – His Dark Materials, The Kid Who Would Be King) who, through the garden’s restorative powers, helps her to fix Hector’s injured leg. Together, these three damaged, slightly misfit children heal each other as they delve deeper into the mysteries of the garden – a magical place of adventure that will change their lives forever.

Inspired by the film’s key themes of friendship, wonder, magic and healing, the collaboration between the RHS and STUDIOCANAL will give people of all ages an opportunity to explore the many ways in which gardens and gardening can help us connect with each other, and improve our physical and mental wellbeing through the magic of growing.

Young gardeners across the nation will be encouraged to unlock their imagination and try their hand at designing their own Secret Garden for the chance to have elements of their design recreated in their school or community. Details of how to enter will be available on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website, at RHS Gardens and selected RHS Partner Gardens.

From 21 March to 3 May at RHS Garden Rosemoor, families can discover areas of the gardens they may never have visited before on the trail of six hidden keys. A range of inspiring workshops (30 March – 10 April) will encourage both adults and children to try out gardening tasks, arts and crafts and other creative activities and a range of branded books will be available to buy from the Gift Shop.

Families will also have the opportunity to discover the magic of gardening with The Secret Garden-themed workshops at RHS Flower Show Cardiff (17-19 April), RHS Chatsworth Flower Show (11-14 June), RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (6-12 July) and RHS Flower Show Tatton Park (22-26 July).

Wild About Gardens, the joint campaign by the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts aiming to raise awareness of how to support garden-dwelling creatures, is also inspired by The Secret Garden for 2020. The focus will be on helping people learn about butterflies, with a booklet and online experience demonstrating how to attract these valuable pollinators to the garden by creating a butterfly box or border.

The Secret Garden is a wonderful story about the power of gardens to heal and bring people together – something all of us at the RHS truly believe in,” says Amanda Cole, Head of Marketing at the RHS. “When STUDIOCANAL approached us about this collaboration we knew immediately that it would resonate with our members and visitors, and we are delighted to be bringing the movie to life through our Gardens, Shows and campaigns. This biggest-ever brand partnership for the RHS will reach thousands of people and we hope that it will inspire them to discover a secret garden of their own.”

Stuart Henderson, Head of UK Marketing for STUDIOCANAL, adds: “We are delighted to be working with The Royal Horticultural Society on this far-reaching partnership. The young characters in The Secret Garden find their lives transformed when they engage with the natural world around them, demonstrating how outdoor spaces can help all of us improve our wellbeing – all of which makes the RHS the perfect partner for the new film. We are excited to work with them on this partnership, promoting the positive benefits of engagement with gardens and bringing this timeless story to the big screen for a new generation.”

The Secret Garden will be in cinemas nationwide from 13 April 2020.