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John Holman explains the changes here on Farm Radio.                                                                                                                                    

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Melplash Show Preview

Thursday August 21st, 2008.  7.30am to 6.00pm

Margery Hookings recorded this preview of the ever popular Melplash Show, talking to the secretary of the Melplash Agricultural Society, Anita Ford.

Tickets are available pre-show from the Melplash Show Office (also available on-line), 23, South Street, Bridport, 01308 423337 or from Frosts, Bridport; The Trawlerman, West Bay; Girling and Bowditch Veterinary Surgery, Beaminster; Bridport, Lyme Regis or Dorchester Tourist Information Centres.

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Michael Jones

We first met Michael Jones back in October 2007 when he told us about a new electronic method he was trying out for detecting cows in heat.  Admitting that he was a sceptic about the technology, Geoff Pagotto decided to revisit the farm this summer and find out how Michael and the cows have managed.

Please listen to the previous item with Michael

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FWAG Announcement - "Green Wellies"



Dry Stone Walling workshop, Fleet, 29th July

Guided walk with Clare Buckerfield of FWAG, Lydlinch, 15th August

For information 01305 251742

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Blackmore Farm, Cannington

The literature rather says it all:

“Step back in time at this unique Grade 1 Listed, 14th Century Manor House which retains many period features including oak beams, stone archways and medieval garderobes. A friendly welcome awaits you at this family run farm situated in a quiet rural location with views to the Quantock Hills.”

And when James Harrison paid a visit for Farm Radio to the Dyer family, that’s exactly what he found, a warm welcome coupled with a fascinating history.  But in addition to the Bed and Breakfast and Farm Shop at Blackmore, it’s also business as usual for the farm itself...

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The  Landsman Magazine

Over fifteen thousand copies of ‘The Landsman’ are circulated every two months throughout the south west. The magazine’s obtainable from farm shops, agricultural suppliers, garden centres and village shops and - its free!  The hub of this publishing enterprise was tracked down by Farm Radio’s John Burgess to a farm deep in the Devon countryside.

Anthony and Deborah Edwards moved to Devon in 1998 with their publishing business. They became converts to real country living and farming when they moved to their 90 acre farm near Colyton about three years ago.  So now farming and publishing live side by side as John discovered.

The Landsman



Editor Deborah Edwards


Advertising Sales:



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West Dorset Farmer Andrew Frampton was let loose with a microphone at this year's Glastonbury Festival.  Tune in to listen to his interviews with the rich and famous!






Part 1 in which he talks to Radio 2's Mark Radcliffe shortly after he finished his set as part of the Family Mahone.

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Part 2 in which he talks to Pete Budd of the Wurzels and Will Young.

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Forde Abbey Summer Fair Preview

THURSDAY JULY 31ST,  2008 11am – 4pm.

Margery Hookings talks to retired farmer Philip Crawford from Beaminster who is involved in publicising the event in aid of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).  This is a charity that helps people in rural industries who have fallen on hard times and has done much to help those who have been suffering during the recent changes in farming and the countryside.

Forde Abbey is easy to find. It is situated 4 miles South East of Chard. It is signed with brown tourist signs off the main roads between Chard, Axminster and Crewkerne. (A30, A358 and the A3165). For the GPS the post code is TA20 4LU

Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution

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For details click here

For a Farm Radio feature on the Tolpuddle Rally click here


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Bovine TB Emergency Meeting

If Hilary Benn's decision not to cull badgers as part of Bovine TB control measures was intended to draw a line under the subject, then he was very much mistaken as Geoff Pagotto found out at a special meeting held by the NFU at Sedgemoor livestock centre.

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THURSDAY JULY 31ST,  2008 11am – 4pm.

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Dexters on the Levels


Dexters are the smallest breed of cattle. They originated from the black cattle of southern Ireland and owe their name to a Mr. Dexter of County Tipperary who bred them from the wild mountain cattle of the area. Dexters were first introduced into England in 1882 and the success and popularity of the breed is now worldwide. Among the qualities sought after by livestock farmers are their hardiness, gentle nature and dual role for producing top quality beef and high butterfat milk.But it’s their ability to adapt to varying climatic conditions and different systems of management, that sets them apart from many other breeds of cattle.  Charlie and Gill Ainge run their Peppercorn herd of Dexters on the Somerset levels. They’re convinced it’s the perfect choice for the wetlands of Somerset, as they explained to John Burgess recently.


Tel: 01934 713472

Somerset Food Links

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Business Information Point - Stewart Horne

Stewart Horne's certainly no pen pushing bureaucrat but a farmer in charge of the not for profit company, Business Information Point. Founded in West Devon BIP now offers services to include Somerset and Dorset. As Geoff Pagotto found out, as the Rural Development Programme funds finally kicks in Stewart is keen for farmers and all rural businesses to get their fair slice.


Website -

Phone - 01837 659059

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The Woolly Shepherd, Part 1

Val Grainger got fed up with making a loss on the fleeces from her flock of sheep and decided that something had to be done.  Farm Radio's Colleen Jackson went to visit her on her farm in the Blackdown Hills on the Devon/Somerset border to see what amazing ideas she came up with!

As if all the various enterprises dealing with wool weren't enough, there is more to come on "The Woolly Shepherd" story.  Look out for Part 2 . . .

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The Rural Housing Trust

Property prices are a political hot potato at the moment, but while many are concerned about their house value, others have been excluded from the housing market for years because of high house prices in the countryside, Barry Lampard Head of Housing Services for the Rural Housing Trust explains to Geoff Pagotto how the trust helps in a modest but powerful way.

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National Beanpole Week

National Beanpole Week was back in April and the Dorset Coppice Group held a special weekend of events to raise awareness of the products from our woodlands and, after an improbably long trip along a track through Shillingstone Forest, Ali Grant emerged at the Group's "Living Classroom" to find out what it was all about.

Mandy Joyce, Dorset Coppice Group

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Bluetongue - Paul Bennett

Farmers in West Dorset are breathing a sigh of relief now that the vaccine for bluetongue has arrived.  Dorset is among the first areas in the south west to receive the vaccine.  Margery Hookings talks to West Dorset NFU secretary Paul Bennett.

Paul Bennett, NFU Secretary West Dorset:    01308 862774

Please also listen to another item on Bluetongue

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Dorset Tree, Woodland and Forest Strategy

The Dorset Trees, Woods and Forest Strategy is a mighty title for the first ever such document produced, certainly in the South West if not in England and with Dorset's Woodlink Officer, David Rees, we unpick some of the crucial and ambitious aims of the project that could impact on Dorset's citizens in some way over the next decade.


Woodlink on the web

Please also listen to Geoff's piece introducing David Rees

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Somerset Lavender

Farm Radio's correspondent, Colleen Jackson took a trip down to Faulkland in Somerset to talk to Judith and Francis Green.  They have given up their dairy herd and are devoting their energies to growing and processing lavender and developing their farm as a fascinating visitor attraction.

Colleen is hoping to re-visit the Greens shortly to report on the lavender harvest.

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Robin Mills - "Farmlife"

Despite farming full-time, Robin Mills has a passion which he’s made sure he’s found time to pursue. For many years, he’s been learning and practising the art of photography, and – following a successful funding application to Chalk and Cheese – the fruits of his non farming labour are now available for all to enjoy. Farmlife tells the story of 3 very different Dorset farms through a series of black and white photos, which are on display at the moment at the Bridport Arts Centre. Ali Grant visited Robin at his farm near Godmanstone, and asked him how it all came about.

Robin’s photos will be at the Bridport Arts Centre until 2nd August, and if you don’t manage to catch them there, they’ll be on display at the Sturminster Newton Exchange between 11th September and 4th October, and at the Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester between 15th October and 2nd December.

To see more of Robin’s work, log onto:


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June 27 - 29

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Police and Farmers Working Together

Police and farmers are working together on a crime prevention intiative to beat the burglar.  PC Tim Poole, beat manager for the Beaminster area and a former farmer, talks to Margery Hookings about the project.

Beaminster Police Station, Southgate, Beaminster.

01202 222222

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Gerry Down empties slurry tanks - quickly and efficiently

Joss Vining didn't have to go too far to interview Gerry Down.  She met up with him as he arrived to clean out the slurry tank on her family farm just outside Sturminster Newton.  Gerry explains to Joss how he got into this business and why it is proving to be a better deal all round for farms and farmers.

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Silage Report

The first cut of grass silage should be safely tucked into the clamps now, but what sort of start has the season seen, Geoff Pagotto braves the reversing machinery and talks to Andrew May, South West regional manager for Biotal, and discovers a link between their ensiled crop preserving products and yeasts used in brewing!

Andrew May: 07786 915949

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Biofuel Debate

Wheat heading for the internal combustion engine rather than the mouths of people and animals is likely to hit record levels this year.  Geoff Pagotto found out from the thinking man's farmer, Oliver Dowding, if biofuels really stack up for a sustainable future.

Please also listen to these other items from Farm Radio dealing with various topics relating to biofuels.

1.    Farm Radio recorded a discussion at the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show, 2006, chaired by John Burgess, with Owen Cligg of Wessex Grain, Chris Brammal of Bical and farmer Steve Harris about the potential for growing crops for biofuels and biomass and what's in it for the farmer. 

2.    Please also see "Energy" Special, Edition 32 (August 2006) of Farm Radio for an item recorded by Geoff Pagotto at the Bath and West Show about the various alternatives for crops for energy.

3.   For "Can We Grow Our Own Petrol?", Edition 22 (September 2005) Geoff Pagotto spoke to Managing Director Malcolm Shepherd of Green Spirit Fuels about the process which it was hoped would provide a new sustainable fuel for transport purposes and new opportunities for nearby farmers.

We are very keen to hear from you if you want to respond to Oliver Dowding's thoughts or if you have a view on this topic that you would like to add to the debate.  Please go to the "Contact Us" page to get in touch.

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This item originally appeared as a Special Feature on Farm Radio.  this feature about Dorset artist, Toby Wiggins, and his "Portraits of Wessex" project includes short clips of the interviews he'd recorded with three of the agricultural workers who'd sat for him.

What do a thatcher, a hurdle maker, a verderer, and a handful of farmers have in common? Apart from all working in agriculture, they've also all sat for Dorset artist Toby Wiggins. His idea of travelling around the counties of Wessex, capturing both the images and the stories of agricultural workers, won him the BP Travel Award for 2006. The resulting pictures and audio were exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in London back in the summer, and will be on show at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester next autumn. He told Ali Grant more about his work


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The full versions that the extracts included in this item are from are available here.  The Hurdle Maker, the Emigrant and the Huntsman.  Over the next few months we'll bring you the recordings he made with the other people that he painted.

For further recordings from Toby's "Portraits of Wessex" click here.

Dorset's New Woodlink Officer


David Rees is a lucky man - his office is full of trees, well his "outdoor office" is at least. Geoff Pagotto met David in woodland to find the highs and lows of his job as Dorset's new Woodlink Officer, a post resurrected by the county's Woodland Forum. It's a job mixed with optimism and frustration.


David Rees  01305 756784


Or follow links to Woodlink Project from:

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Avon Bulbs

It was formerly a small 50-acre dairy farm but with the changing face of farming, Burnt Hill Farm at Mid Lambrook near South Petherton swapped milk churns for plant pots when it became home to Avon Bulbs.

The business is now a highly regarded international mail order firm, supplying specialist plant bulbs to countries as far away as Europe and the Far East.

James Harrison, for Farm Radio, met the small team behind Avon Bulbs and was given a chance to go behind the scenes as the company prepared for the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show . . .

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Rogation Sunday Service

Rogation is a time when the land is blessed for a good harvest. Margery Hookings joined the congregation high up on Blackdown Hill, near Beaminster, for a service conducted by the Rev Anthony Ashwell. The idea for the open air service came from local couple Philip and Sarah Hardwill. Participants walked up the hill or were ferried up in 4x4s. Organist Ann Ward had a portable keyboard and there was even a Portaloo on hand. God organised the weather!

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One of the more recent developments at the Long Crichel garden is the creation of an enormous herb garden. Luzia Barclay is a herbalist and couldn’t believe her luck when she was offered space to grow her own herbs as part of the Long Crichel community garden. She told Ali Grant about the stage the garden’s at at the moment, and her plans for developing it in the future.

Also listen to "Long Crichel Walled Garden"


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When Ali Grant last visited the Green and Pleasant smallholding at Upsydling, she met Dan and Natalie, a young couple who had recently set up a veg box scheme, delivering their range of organic vegetables as far afield as Weymouth. Now, with the vegetable business firmly established, their dreams of having their own orchard as well is set to become a reality. With plans to have around 2000 apple trees within about 5 years, Dan talked to Ali Grant about his vision for the future.

For more information:  01300 341262

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Paul Millard of the Country Land and Business Owners' Association

It's the start of the agricultural show season and as Paul Millard dusts off the CLA marquee Geoff Pagotto gets a sense about the tune this organisation's South West Communications Manager will be banging out over the coming months.

Listen to the previous item with Paul

CLA South West website

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