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First Rate Farm Producers Win Coveted National Trust Awards

Twenty-two food and drink producers from across England and Wales are celebrating after winning a prestigious Fine Farm Produce Award from the National Trust.

The awards, now in their sixth year, celebrate the breadth and quality of produce grown, reared or made on land owned or managed by the National Trust, including tenant farms, orchards and gardens.

A total of 33 products from 22 producers – including dressed brown crab, red Devon beef, stoneground flour and light golden ale – have received Fine Farm Produce Awards. They will now be able to use the coveted Fine Farm Produce Award marque on their products. This year’s winning products were chosen from a very high standard of 47 separate entries.

Five new producers won an award this year and a total of 18 new products received the coveted stamp of approval for the first time, including the Red Devon beef from Big Red Cow in Somerset and Parke Farm apple juice.

The beef was extremely popular with all the judges who thought it was “full of flavour with a great texture”, whereas judges considered the juice to be “characterful”, with a “nice sharpness and distinctive taste.”

This year’s overall winner was hand-picked dressed brown crab, fished from the seas surrounding the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales.

Steve Harrison, who runs Aberdaron Seafood with his wife Natalie and business partner Idwal Moore, said: “This has been our busiest year ever and we’re very happy to have been chosen as overall winner this year. Winning in 2008 and 2009 really made a huge difference to our business. We supply a lot of businesses locally, but we even have a restaurant in London using our crab now.

“The award really is important to us. It’s good to have the recognition from the judges and it also really helps raise our profile.”

Rob Macklin, national agriculture and food adviser at the National Trust, said: “To even qualify for judging, all products meet strict criteria of provenance and environmental and animal welfare standards, and all primary ingredients must meet high production assurance.

“Products that successfully pass this check are subjected to a vigorous blind taste test by a panel of judges. The appearance, preparation, colour, aroma, texture and taste all have to be at least as good as a high quality, commercially available alternative, to win an award. Judging is therefore harsh but fair.”

The National Trust cares for half a million acres of farmland across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It works closely with its properties and tenants to help them develop high quality products.

Rob continued: “Since 2006, over 150 products have received a Fine Farm Produce Award and this year’s winners will join a group of some of the very best producers that the country has to offer.”

This year’s judging panel included Henrietta Green, food writer, broadcaster and founder of FoodLoversBritain.com; Karen Barnes, editor of delicious. magazine and Richard McGeown, chef patron at Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Cornwall.

Via EPR Network
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National Trust reveals 3.5 million investment results at Hidcote Manor

National Trust has announced that a newly restored semi-tropical plant house, a bathing pool and a summerhouse mural are just some of the results of 10 years of hard work and £3.5 million investment at Hidcote Manor garden in Gloucestershire.

The National Trust has now officially completed a major phase of reinstating many of the key historic structures in this world-famous garden thanks to the support of an anonymous donor, who matched every pound raised by the Trust up to £1.6 million.

Created by American-born horticulturalist Major Lawrence Johnston, Hidcote is one of the most inventive and influential gardens of the 20th Century. His creation was built around outdoor ‘rooms’ linked by views and design features influenced by the fashionable ‘Arts and Crafts’ style.

However, elements of the 10 acre garden fell into disrepair during the 1950s and as a result, 10 years ago, the National Trust set itself a target to recreate Hidcote as Johnston planned it.

National Trust gardeners and volunteers have spent a decade researching and piecing together Johnston’s original plans for his Cotswolds garden, putting in many thousands of hours of work into reinstating former structures and garden rooms which formed part of Johnston’s vision, with ‘habitats’ ranging from hi alpine to the sub-tropical.

Head gardener at Hidcote, Glyn Jones, who led the team working on the project, said:”This has been a huge undertaking but one that we’re very proud of. We really feel that we have managed to bring Johnston’s vision back to life. Visitors will be able to imagine Johnston and his guests enjoying the gardens, tennis courts and bathing pool back in the 1920s, 30s and 40s as they wander around.”

In Hidcote’s new incarnation, Johnston’s unique plant house has been given a new lease of life. It is once again filled with semi tropical plants such as citruses – orange and lemon – Fuchsias, South African Plumbago, Begonias and Oleanders. Fully glazed in the winter, in the summer the plant house was designed to have the panels along the front removed turning it into a floral arcade.

Mike Calnan, head of gardens and parks at the National Trust, said: “Hidcote is one of the most famous and important 20th Century gardens in Europe. It is of particular importance to the Trust because it is the first property acquired purely on merit for its garden.

“The team has done a fantastic job in turning the garden around, reinstating many structures, lost features and installing behind-the-scenes services to make it easier to maintain.

“Painstaking research has also been put into tracking down the plants Johnston used and reinstating former beds and planted areas. We may never know exactly how he arranged these to create the celebrated ‘Johnston’ style, but our challenge over the coming years is to move even closer towards that vision of perfection.”

Via EPR Network
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The National Trust Reveals Butterflies are Back this Summer

The National Trust has announced that this summer looks set to be the best for butterflies in more than 30 years as population’s boom, sales of butterfly products increase and butterfly imagery is adopted by big high street brands.

At the half way point in the butterfly season there has been a number of record breaking early appearances from spring species thanks to the warm and dry weather, especially in April.

The favourable conditions are also leading experts to predict that a number of species will produce extra generations this year.

Matthew Oates, wildlife adviser and butterfly expert at the National Trust said:
“It has been a fantastic start to 2011 for Britain’s butterflies with a White Admiral appearing at Bookham Common in Surrey at its earliest since 1893, the White-letter Hairstreak appearing more than two weeks early at Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire and Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns a week to ten days early atDenbies in Surrey and Exmoor.

“The populations of spring butterflies are as good as they can be. There may even be significant second broods for the Duke of Burgundy and Dingy Skipper butterflies – it’s all gearing up to what could be the best butterfly summer for a generation.”

Butterflies are also enjoying a revival in popular culture with sales of butterfly-themed products high and many large businesses such as John Lewis, Easy Jet, Samsung, Accessorize, Paper Chase, Laura Ashley and White Stuff using butterflies in their branding,

Rich Sutcliffe, Editor at Brand Republic said: “Butterflies are about reinvention and change, from caterpillar to a thing of beauty. Companies thinking about rebranding or repositioning a product have a clear message as they signify a natural new beginning.”

Butterflies are very popular in tattooing and are often created to mark a change in someone’s life. Famous names such as Cheryl Cole, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Drew Barrymore all adorn butterfly tattoos.

Lou Molloy, celebrity tattooist to the likes of David Beckham and star of ‘London Ink’, said: “Butterflies are one of the great recurring images in tattooing. I’ve tattooed them on many, many girls but they’re increasingly popular with men – I’ve recently finished a half sleeve that features four different types of butterfly and one of the most referenced photos from my website is another sleeve tattoo with a big Monarch in the centre. They’re one of the universally popular tattoo images.”

The first ever National Trust ‘Love Butterflies’ weekend will take place on the 6 and 7 August when the greatest number of species will be in flight.

Over the summer months the Trust will be encouraging people to upload their sightings and pictures of butterflies to its butterfly watch map. This can be done via twitter by entering the name of the species, postcode and #lovebutterflies. There will also be top tips on how to go butterflying and places to see butterflies on the National Trust website.

Via EPR Network
Environment press releases

National Trust Encourages Government To Protect Coasts And Seascapes

National Trust has joined campaign groups in an effort to encourage the Government to recognise Britain’s coasts and seascapes as more than just a view.

More than sixty years after laws were passed to protect Britain’s landscapes the UK Government and devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland need to extend the same protection to the UK’s seascapes, campaign groups are urging.

Phil Dyke, coast and marine adviser at the National Trust, said: “As an Island nation it does seem strange that it’s taken us more than six decades to start thinking about how we protect our seascapes, these wonderful yet fragile places that mean so much to people.”

The UK Marine Policy Statement heralds the beginning of the development of a marine planning system across the UK however while seascapes are mentioned campaign groups fear that they are not given the prominence they deserve and so they have come together to launch a new manifesto for coasts and seascapes*.

The manifesto for coasts and seascapes is supported by the National Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), Campaign for National Parks, the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Europarc Atlantic Isles.

Neil Sinden, policy and campaigns director of the CPRE said, “Our marine area is becoming increasingly busy, with more shipping, military training, fisheries, energy production, port development and aggregate extraction. This is placing pressure on what’s left of the beauty and tranquillity of our coasts which are such an important part of our quality of life and national identity. That’s why we need a robust marine planning system that extends the protection that we have for our landscapes to our seascapes”

Three of the key areas that the manifesto focuses on in terms of early action by all levels of Government are to:

– Recognise coasts and seascapes as a key resource in the marine environment.
– Identify the character and distinctiveness of the coastline and seascapes.
– Identify areas that are of national importance and a means by which they can be conserved by the planning process.

In addition to the fundamental contribution to the economy and culture of Britain’s coastal communities, research by the National Trust found that two thirds of Britons said that visiting the coast is important to their quality of life**.

Current planning protection and designations only apply to land stopping at the low-tide mark, leaving seascapes vulnerable to pressures from human activities. Seascapes are, in just the same way as energy production, port activities and aggregates extraction, a key resource of the marine environment. The challenge is to ensure seascapes are safeguarded, linking their protection with that offered to adjacent areas of coast for the benefit of future generations. The new system of marine planning across the UK provides this opportunity.

Phil Dyke, added: “As a nation we clearly love the coast. We have to seize this chance to ensure a robust and sensible planning approach to one of the most precious and delicate resources we have. We should become a world leader in protecting our coastal and marine natural and cultural heritage for future generations.”

Via EPR Network
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National Trust Reports Puffin Sat-Nav Helping To Solve Mystery Of Feeding Flight Paths

Cutting edge technology is shedding light on the daily flight paths of puffins around the National Trust’s Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, and providing clues that could be vital to the seabirds’ survival.

Over the last year, scientists have used the technology to build up a picture of where the puffins are heading for when they take off from the Farne Islands each day. This shows that they are making a beeline for feeding ‘hotspots’ 20 miles out to sea.

Along with their established and protected breeding grounds on the islands, these hotspots may be important areas to conserve in order to ensure the puffin’s future survival.

Since last year, after a dramatic 30 per cent decline in puffin numbers had been recorded in 2008*, a team of researchers from Newcastle University have been working with National Trust wardens on Brownsman Island and deploying a whole raft of puffin technology to track their every move.

David Steel, National Trust Head Warden on the Farne Islands, said: “This new research and our ongoing puffin count are finally piecing together a complete picture of puffin behaviour.

“The puffins seem to be recovering slowly from the 2008 crash, with a five per cent increase in numbers recorded both this year and last.

“Technology is helping us to understand what steps need to be taken to secure their future, and that of all the seabirds that find a safe haven on the Farne Islands each year.”

Dr Richard Bevan from Newcastle University, who is leading the research, said: “The technology has come into its own here on the Farne Islands. Knowing where these seabirds go to feed is a vital factor in their survival.

Via EPR Network
Environment press releases