Smeale Farm Ltd of Andreas, has been named as the winner in the 2014 Farm Conservation Awards.
The Awards, now in their tenth year, are organised by the Isle of Man Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), with support from the Isle of Man Bank and the Department for Environment, Food & Agriculture.
The Awards aim to recognise the work by the Island’s farmers to support conservation and wildlife habitats alongside successful commercial farming, which includes managing the land and stock and available conditions. The Bronze Chough Trophy, originally provided by the Department, was presented by Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture Richard Ronan, to Steve Martin on behalf of Smeale Farm Ltd.
Mr Ronan said: ‘The Department are always there to support Manx agriculture as it produces food and recognising and supporting this award is an important part of this’. He also illustrated the Island's rich biodiversity recalling a comment made to him when he was in England about the presence of Chough's on the Isle of Man. He congratulated the Martins from Smeale Farm as winners of the Award.
Runner-up was Dan Christian of Ballakeigh Farms Ltd, Bride, while a special award was presented to Neil and Vicky Masson of Ballacricket Farm, Ronague. John Hunter, Head of Business and Commercial at Isle of Man Bank presented cheques and certificates to the winners.
Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Hunter said: ‘The Isle of Man Bank has an historic link with the farming community and has long recognised the vital role it plays in Island life.’
‘Once again we have seen how farmers have adapted to the needs of the modern world, while continuing to give respect to the importance of the environment we live in.’
He added: ‘Our farmers do a fantastic job for the countryside, which is enjoyed by so many residents and visitors to the Isle of Man.’
‘The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group also plays an important role in recognising the mutual needs of the farming community and the habitat it occupies.’
Last year’s winner John Kennaugh of Ballaleece Farm, St John’s was on hand with his wife Margaret to judge this year’s awards along with some help from former FWAG Treasurer Edna Callow of Ballachrink Farm, St Mark’s.
John described the enterprises and habitats found on each of the winning farms and in each case identified the excellent farming practice taking place and the fact that each of the three winning families were the current of many generations that had helped shape the land before them. He praised each of the farm businesses for their efforts both in terms of their significant contribution as food producers – dairy, beef, sheep and wheat being the main enterprises and for their efforts in maintaining the Manx Countryside. The judges were encouraged to see entries from younger farmers in the Farm Conservation Challenge.
Edna Callow then presented young apple trees to each of the three finalists on behalf of FWAG.
Mr Fletcher, Chairman of FWAG, thanked the Minister for his support and the Isle of Man Bank for its continued support of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and for hosting the Awards Presentation. He explained that this challenge demonstrates the major role played by the Island’s Farming Industry in continuing to care for our countryside for all to enjoy.
During the awards ceremony, Mr Hunter and Jane Howland, Isle of Man Bank Corporate Sustainability and Sponsorship Manager, were each presented with a copy of a calendar Custodians of the Manx Countryside created from photographs entered as part of a competition run earlier in the year by FWAG and hosted by the Isle of Man Bank in its marquee at the Agricultural Shows.
Pictured, left to right, are Vicky Masson and Neil Masson, of Ballacricket Farm, Isle of Man Bank Head of Business and Commercial John Hunter, Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister Richard Ronan, Steve Martin of Smeale Farm and Dan Christian of Ballakeigh Farms Ltd.