South West producers win coveted National Trust award

Eight producers from across the South West have just been awarded one of this year’s Fine Farm Produce Awards, from the National Trust.

Locally produced cider, beef, honey, chutney, charcoal, flour and apple juice all receive awards and will now be able to use the coveted Fine Farm Produce Award logo on their products.  The winning products were chosen from a very high standard of 47 separate entries.

The following National Trust tenants and in-hand producers in the South West have received a Fine Farm Produce Award for 2011.

  • Barrington Court Estate, Medium Farmhouse Cider, Somerset
  • Big Red Cow, Red Devon Beef, Somerset – first time entrant and winner
  • Burrow Farm, Red Devon Beef Devon – first time entrant and winner
  • Clyston Mill, Stoneground Flour, Devon
  • Home Farm, Red Devon Beef Topside and Mince, Cornwallfirst time entrant and winner
  • Killerton Estate, Traditional Medium Dry Cider, Honey, Charcoal, Devon
  • Parke Farm, Apple Juice, Devon first time entrant and winner
  • Stourhead Farm Shop, Organic Angus Cross Beefburgers, Wiltshire – Burgers win for the first time

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

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; Karen Barnes, editor of delicious magazine and Richard McGeown, chef patron at Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Cornwall.

A full list of the award winners and details of their produce can be found online at

The National Trust is passionate about using local and seasonal food in its 150 tearooms and cafes.  Many of this year’s Fine Farm Produce Award winners sell their produce either through their own farm shop, direct to customers or on-line.

Ring in seasonal change with “leaf line”

Visitors wanting to know how the autumn colours are developing at Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire can now call a special ‘leaf line’ for the latest updates.

Although autumn colours started showing early on some trees, gardeners are reporting a steady start to autumn which is likely to linger into November.

The special leaf line – 01747 841152 – will have regular recorded updates from Stourhead head gardener Alan Power as the 600 different species of trees and shrubs in the world-famous landscape gardens change. The recorded update is accessed by dialling the number and selecting option 6.

‘We had a few early hints of autumn, and the Maples, the Norway and Japanese Maples, are already fading but they are always among the first to turn. The rest of the garden is coming along a nice steady pace,’ said Alan.

‘Autumn is not a one day event – there is no single best time to visit. It is a six to eight week period when people love to come and visit and plot the changes as the colours wash across the different trees in the garden.

‘Right now the beech is just starting to show the very first signs of colour but the oak is still very green. It is always the one of the last to turn.’

Every autumn at Stourhead is different as the trees respond to weather throughout the summer and subsequently during September. Depending on the amount of moisture in the ground and the stresses the trees have suffered from weather over the summer months, autumn can start very suddenly or can develop gently across the gardens.

Alan reports that this year has seen a gentle start with different types of trees in the plant collection starting to change at different times.

‘It is the autumn that brings out the best in the gardens here. The plant collection itself is worth coming to see but added to it the architectural features within the landscape, the way the trees reflect in the lake – especially when the tulip trees on the islands turn yellow – makes autumn well worth the time of watching the changes develop,’ he said.

The vision of the garden was laid down in the 18th century by Henry Hoare II who placed Stourhead at the forefront of the 18th-century English landscape movement. Inspired by the views of Italy captured by artists in paint, he decided to create a landscape garden at Stourhead that would bring art to life.

His work was carried on by his grandson Richard Colt Hoare who added to the garden and developed the current paths also adding many of the broadleaved trees, especially beech, acers, chestnuts, planes and the tulip trees.

Throughout autumn there are several events planned at Stourhead including A Fungi Foray on 8 October, a woodland Trim Trek on 29 October and an autumn colour Walk on 30 October.

For more information on events at Stourhead visit the website


Lets revive the great British Picnic

It seems we are in danger of losing our sense of adventure when it comes to eating outdoors and are at risk of forgetting a national treasure – the great British picnic.
Some recently conducted research has revealed that although the majority (91 per cent) of parents and their children say they love eating outdoors, over half (58 per cent) are put off eating al fresco food because of unpredictable weather.

While 41 per cent of families decided to picnic in August last year, only 13 per cent ventured outdoors for mealtimes in March – a time of year when people are afforded beautiful spring views, birdsong and glimpses of newborn farm animals.

Apart from the weather, people are put off eating outdoors because of wasps and other insects (62 per cent) and getting dirt and sand in their food (26 per cent).

So we are encouraging a revival of the proud and stoic British tradition of the picnic, whatever the weather, to help people take advantage of the stunning views across its 250,000 hectares of amazing countryside that includes 200 gardens, 100 orchards, 700 miles of coastline and breathtaking hills and mountains.

The top spots for a ‘picnic with a view’ in the south west are at Kynance Cove in Cornwall and Stourhead in Wiltshire.

Layla Astley, Visitor Services Manager in Cornwall said: ‘Its a special place which looks spectacular whatever the weather. When you reach the cliff edge the Cove reveals turquoise water and clean white sand woven between rocky pinnacles to shelter behind on a windy day. During the spring and summer it’s not too affected by bigger swells, which makes it the perfect family beach to enjoy a picnic’.

Fiona Reynolds, Director General at the National Trust said:  “Picnics are something we’re well known for in this country, but we don’t need to wait for the summer sun to arrive.  Spring is finally here and we have our extra hour’s daylight – it’s a great time of year to head outdoors and enjoy food with a view.  Spending more time outside is also the perfect way to refresh and re-energise both body and mind.”

Our poll also reveals that 48 per cent of families regard eating outdoors as a welcome change from meals indoors, with 60 per cent saying it is part of a fun day out and 47 per cent saying it’s a great way of getting fresh air.  However, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of parents are unclear about where they are allowed to picnic.

“One in four families feels restricted about where they are allowed to eat outdoors and 10 per cent of families haven’t eaten outside in the last year at all.  We want people to join us for a food adventure, to pack up mealtimes and come to eat outdoors at one of our beautiful places,” Fiona continued.

The Trust has also produced a delicious range of seasonal ‘food on the go’ recipes to counter spring chills and make picnic packing lighter and less messy – a welcome relief as nearly a third (31 per cent) of families said they find it difficult to create varied and exciting meals to eat outside because they don’t want to carry too much. Over two thirds of people (68 per cent) rarely or never take hot food to eat outside.

Brian Turner, the National Trust’s National Food Specialist, has created seasonal stews and soups for flasks, and also recommends some simple tips for planning picnics – such as cooking sausages for hotdogs warm by placing them straight from the pan into a warmed wide-mouthed thermos and carving out a cottage loaf of bread and filling with dips to make an on-the go edible bread bowl.

Willie Harcourt Cooze, food writer and chocolate entrepreneur, said:

I love eating outdoors – it’s a simple pleasure that really makes you feel connected to the land you’re walking on. While walking in the hills and mountains fruit is easy to carry, refreshing and delicious – and you don’t even need to worry about waste because it’s bio degradable.

“My top tip for outdoor eating is if you’re making sandwiches, carry the salad ingredients separately and assemble at the moment of feasting, especially when a dressing is involved, as it keeps things crisp. Taking large salad leaves to wrap your whole sandwich in is a great way to keep it in shape and avoid losing any of the best bits.”

To find out more about our top 10 ‘food with a view’ sites, seasonal picnic recipes and what to look out for this spring when you’re eating outdoors, please visit: