Statement on Ash dieback outbreak

Ian Wright, Plant Health Adviser at the National Trust, which manages some 25,000 hectares of woodland and forest, said: “We’re extremely worried about the potential risk caused by the current outbreak of Ash dieback.

“As a precautionary measure we’ve advised all our gardens teams to not order ash trees and to check any ash planted since 2009 for signs of the disease.

“We will continue to liaise with the Forestry Commission, DARD and FERA for the latest information on this worrying outbreak.”

Record number of products win coveted food award

Forty-three products from 27 food and drink producers from across England and Wales are celebrating winning a prestigious National Trust Fine Farm Produce Award, the highest number of products to ever receive this much sought after ‘stamp’ of quality [1].

The awards, supported by Freedom Food [2] and now in their seventh year, celebrate the breadth and quality of produce grown, reared or made on special places owned or managed by the National Trust, including tenant farms, orchards and gardens.

Winners this year include stoneground flour, dark ale, apple juice, North Devon beef, venison, red wine and onion sausages and dressed brown crab.  They will all now be able to use the coveted Fine Farm Produce Award marque to help market their products.

Five new producers won awards and a total of 18 new products received the coveted ‘stamp’ for the first time, including pork chipolata sausages from Chyvarloe Farm in Cornwall and Wild Venison and Hazelnut Terrine from cnwd (pronounced Can-old) in south-west Wales.

This year’s overall winner – as voted by the team of seven judges [3] – was cooked salt beef, made from Sussex-cross cattle raised on the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey Estate in Surrey.

Farmer and butcher Steve Conisbee said: “We’ve been entering the awards for the past six years for various different products as we find it really helps give us a point of difference with customers.

“Customers can buy with confidence knowing that they are buying a quality product – which not only tastes good, thanks to the high quality pasture land on which it is bred – but has met various standards including high animal welfare.

“We take great pride in what we do and winning the award is really important to us and makes a real difference to our business.”

Umami Seasoning from The Mushroom Garden in North Wales won this year’s most innovative product award.

The Umami is made from dried shiitake mushroom powder grown in specially adapted growing rooms on National Trust land in the foothills of Snowdonia, dried seaweed and Anglesey sea-salt.  The seasoning is used as a meat tenderiser, or to enhance mushroom flavour in any mushroom based dishes.

Judges were impressed with both its taste and the innovation behind the product development.

Cynan Jones, owner of The Mushroom Garden, said: “We’re one of the National Trust’s smallest tenanted rural businesses, yet this year we have won one of the key awards!  We grow our shiitake and oyster mushrooms in four growing rooms and use other Welsh, local ingredients wherever possible in both the maim and the mushroom caviar, which also won an award this year, to give our products a unique and regional taste.”

Rob Macklin, national agriculture and food adviser at the National Trust and chair of the judging panel, said:  “This year’s award winning foods have really captured the essence of the special place where they have been grown, bred or produced.  It is our aim to really connect customers to where their food comes from and these awards are a great way for us to do this.

“Each award winner goes through a tough judging process.  Even before judging begins, all products have to meet provenance, environmental and animal welfare standards, and all primary ingredients must meet high production assurance [4].

“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 200 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; Lizzie Kamenetsky, food 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 https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/finefarmproduceawards

[1] The following National Trust tenants and in-hand producers have received a Fine Farm Produce Award for 2012.  Case studies for each winner are available on our FTP site – details above.

  • Aberdaron Seafood, Dressed Brown Crab, Gwynedd
  • Ashclyst Farm Dairy, Organic Whole Milk, Organic Semi-Skinned Milk and Organic Clotted Cream, Devon New producer and first time wins for all products
  • Barrington Court Estate, South Somerset Blended Apple Juice, Medium Farmhouse Cider, Dry Farmhouse Cider Somerset
  • Beef into Booths, Traditional Dry Aged Beef, North West and Yorkshire
  • Belton Estate, Fallow Deer Venison, Lincolnshire
  • Beningbrough Home Farm, Aberdeen Angus Beef, Yorkshire
  • Brockhampton Estate, Damson chutney, Worcestershire chutney wins for the first time
  • Burrow Farm, Red Devon Beef Topside Devon
  • Charlecote Park, Venison and Honey, Warwickshire New producer and first time wins for both products
  • Chyvarloe Farm, Pork Chipolata Sausages, Cornwall– New producer and first time win
  • Clyston Mill, Stoneground Flour, Devon
  • F Conisbee & Son Farming Partnership, Cooked Salt Beef, Pave Rump Medallions and Turkey Breast, Surrey– cooked salt beef – overall winner and first time entered. Rump medallions and turkey breast also win for the first time
  • cnwd Towy Valley Wild Venison and Hazelnut Terrine, CarmarthenshireNew producer and first time winner
  • Cwmcerrig Farm Shop – Dinefwr Venison and Dinefwr Venison, Red Wine and Onion Sausages, CarmarthenshireNew producer and first time wins for both products
  • Dolaucothi Estate, Lamb, Carmarthenshire
  • Home Farm, Red Devon Beef, Cornwall
  • Jacobi Brewery, Dark Ale, Carmarthenshire – first time win for dark ale
  • Killerton Estate, Apple Juice, Medium Dry Cider, Charcoal, Devon
  • Killerton Kitchen, Apple Chutney, Devon
  • Ochr Cefn Isa, Free-Range Eggs, Conwy, North Wales
  • Parke Farm, Apple Juice, Devon
  • Tanwood Products, Damson Chutney, Worcestershire first time win for this chutney
  • Trehill Farm, Pembrokeshire New Potatoes, Pembrokeshire
  • The Mushroom Garden, Mushroom Caviar and Umami Seasoning, Gwynedd – Umami wins most innovative product award and first time win for mushroom caviar
  • The Westerham Brewery Company, British Bulldog, Scotney Pale Ale, Scotney Best Bitter and William Wilberforce Freedom Ale, Kent – British Bulldog wins for the first time
  • Wimpole Home Farm, Pork Sausages, Organic Duck Eggs and Organic Chicken Eggs, Cambridgeshire
  • Yew Tree Farm, Herdwick Hogget, Cumbria

[2] Freedom Food is an arm of the RSPCA dedicated to farm animal welfare.  When you see the freedom Food logo you know that animals have been kept to strict RSPCA welfare standards.  Freedom Food is one of the key requirements for meat and dairy products entered into the Fine Farm Produce Awards to demonstrate higher welfare standards for farm animals.  See www.freedomfood.co.uk for more information.

[3] Seven judges presided on the panel this year:

  • Henrietta Green, founder of FoodLoversBritain.com and who has helped direct the awards since they began in 2006
  • Lizzie Kamenetzky, food editor of delicioius. Magazine
  • Bob Waller, Freedom Food
  • Richard McGeown, chef patron of Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Cornwall.  Richard, who prepared all the food for tasting, has been working on the awards for the past three years
  • Lynda Brewer, catering development manager at the National Trust
  • Phillippa Green, food brand licensing manager at the National Trust
  • Debbie Schreiber, deputy editor of the National Trust Magazine

[4] The criteria that need to be met before producers can receive the Fine Farm Produce Award are:

  • Each producer from a National Trust tenant farm, National Trust managed farm or farmland will be assessed against National Trust Environment Standards for Farms by National Trust staff.
  • All farm livestock and dairy products must be certified organic or Freedom Food (RSPCA) assured.  Arable and field crops are expected to be organic or hold the Leaf Marque or Conservation Grade.
  • Food and drink products are then subject to a taste panel where the key criteria are appearance, preparation, colour, aroma, texture and flavour.

Food and Farming at the National Trust

  • The National Trust believes in using quality, local, seasonal and sustainable food.   It matters that we know where our food comes from, how the crops were grown and that animals are properly cared for.
  • The National Trust helps and encourages farmers to manage their farms to high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards.   We work with our farmers to help them add value to the food they produce and to get a better return.
  • The National Trust is the largest non-governmental landowner in Britain, owning approximately 250,000 hectares of land across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. More than 80 per cent of the Trust’s land is farmed or is dependent upon farming for its management.
  • There are 1,500 individual farm tenants including 700 whole farms on National Trust land with a further 1,300 separate areas of land rented out to farmers. Seventy per cent of farms on Trust land participate in agri-environment schemes.
  • The Trust directly manages 25 farms itself including Wimpole Home Farm in Cambridgeshire, Hafod-y-Llan in Snowdonia and Llanerchaeron in mid-Wales along with over 300 further areas of farmland.
  • Seven per cent of farms on National Trust land are registered as organic, including the award winning Coleshill Organics in Oxfordshire (three awards in the 2004 Organic Food Awards) This compares to a national average of four per cent.
  • The Trust’s cooks and catering teams look first to their property or estate for produce, and then to their county, their region and from around the UK.

The National Trust is passionate about using local and seasonal food in its 150 tearooms and cafés.  Many of this year’s Fine Farm Produce Award winners feature on the menus at their local National Trust property as well as selling either through their own farm shop, their local National Trust shop, direct to customers or on-line.

Getting kids into nature starts at home, inquiry finds

Parents need more support to make the outdoors a part of everyday family life if we’re to avoid rearing a generation completely cut off from the natural world, an inquiry by the National Trust has found.

The Natural Childhood Inquiry – which sought submissions from experts and the public on the barriers and the solutions for children’s connection with nature – found that children’s love of nature is best started in the home. The Inquiry follows on from a report for the National Trust by award winning nature author and wildlife TV producer Stephen Moss, published in March, which documented children’s declining connection with the outdoors and nature.

Inquiry respondents said parents need more accessible child and family-friendly green and natural spaces and that opportunities for children to access and enjoy nature need to be promoted in a more joined-up fashion, and in ways that appeal more to families and children.

Much more could be made of the smaller everyday opportunities for children to play outdoors close to home to connect with nature on their doorstep and parents should look to draw more on networks of family and friends, especially grandparents, to help share the load of their children getting outdoors more.

Time learning and playing outdoors also needs to become a bigger element of the typical school day.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “It is clear from the huge public response that our Natural Childhood report struck a chord with the nation.

“Parents want their children to have a better connection with nature, but they don’t feel completely confident in how to make that happen in a safe and stimulating way.

“Our inquiry showed that there is widespread agreement that this is an important issue and that now is the time to act.  The worlds of conservation, government, education and child welfare need to work together with families and communities to find solutions.

“As an organisation founded on the principle that people need access to open spaces, the National Trust is bringing together leaders in all these fields to discuss how to tackle this issue together”.

The Inquiry however recognised that there were some big barriers to a closer relationship with nature. These include excessive health and safety rules, the rise of indoor entertainment competing for children’s time and attention, traffic dangers, over-stuffed school days, and the poor quality and accessibility of green and natural spaces in many communities.

Research with children and parents commissioned by the National Trust to accompany today’s publication of the inquiry findings strongly validates these conclusions.

A YouGov survey [1] of 419 UK parents of under 13s revealed that a range of parental fears and concerns could be preventing children from getting the most of the outdoors.

Stranger danger (37%), lack of safe nearby outdoor places to play (25%) and too much traffic (21%) were the top ranked barriers amongst parents of children aged 12 or under.

Just short of half (45 per cent) of parents of pre-teens identified ‘more local safe places to play’ as the thing which would most encourage them to let their children get outdoors and explore more where they lived.  The other two top solutions supported by parents were ‘more supervised play spaces’ (32%) and ‘more activities organised by schools or youth groups’ (31%).

Qualitative research by Children’s research specialists Childwise found that children also express concerns about safety, often picked up from their parents, around issues such as traffic risks, perceptions that activities such as climbing trees being seen as too risky, or anxious parents reinforcing messages around the outdoors being dangerous such as “don’t go out in the rain in case you slip or catch a cold”.

Tim Gill, author of Rethinking Childhood and leading expert on childhood and risk, and a speaker at the summit, said: “It’s perfectly natural for parents to want to protect their children. But it’s also a simple fact that children can only become confident and capable adults if they are allowed to take some responsibility for themselves as they grow up.

“When children play outdoors and in nature, they have adventures and challenges that prepare them for the everyday ups and downs of life. At the same time, the risks that make many people anxious are often over-estimated.

“A more balanced, thoughtful approach is desperately needed. We have to start recognising the benefits of spending time out of doors, rather than just looking out for the risks.”

The National Trust are today (25 September) hosting a Natural Childhood Summit bringing together community leaders, charities, local government, corporate partners and academic experts to build consensus around action needed to give every child the opportunity to form a personal connection with the natural world.

The summit seeks to build a partnership which works to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to form a connection with nature before they reach 12 years of age [2]. But support from the public, policymakers and politicians is required to make that happen.

As part of its response to the lack of connection between kids and nature the National Trust launched its 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’s campaign in May.  More than 250 Trust places took part and in the first two months more than 200,000 activity scrapbooks given away and nearly 20,000 users registered on the 50 Things website.

 

[1] The total sample size of the parents study, conducted by YouGov Plc., was 2072 adults of which 419 were parents of children aged 12 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th and 12th September.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[2] Current supporters of the Natural Childhood Summit and partners in the campaign are Arla Food, Britdoc, Green Lions, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, Play England, Play Wales and Playboard Northern Ireland.

David Pencheon, Director of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, said:  “Developing communities sustainably is not just about carbon reduction and building design. It is also about the role of the natural environment in allowing a lifestyle that promotes health and wellbeing. Providing opportunities for children to be active and adventurous provides long term positive impacts for individuals and is an important part of reducing health problems in later life.”

Catherine Prisk, Director of Play England, said: More than ever we live in a hectic, pressurised world. Children need to be free of that, to have the time, space and freedom to play out, to make friends, explore their world, have adventures big and small. If they don’t have freedom to play, think of the consequences for their health, the way they relate to people and their community, and most of all the consequences to their happiness.

Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Chief Executive of Playboard NI, said: “The demise of outdoor play and the growth of more screen based sedentary activities is fast becoming a major contributor of health problems in childhood.  Those of us whom work with children know that children are biologically predisposed to create, explore and manipulate their play environment; therefore we need to do more to get children outside playing in natural surroundings. We need to reconnect children with nature.   Not only is this crucially important for children’s holistic development, the physical experience and social interaction enjoyed in playing outdoors also helps children gain an appreciation and respect for the natural world around them”.

Mike Greenway, Director of Play Wales, said: “It is natural for children to play outside in a natural environment. Not to play outside is by implication unnatural. The complexity that nature offers children cannot be replicated artificially. Any attempt to create a virtual alternative will be a poor imitation; and why would we want to? The natural environment provides the widest range of opportunities for play; play that facilitates physical and emotional development. Playing is how children find their place in the world, in time and space. As a species we have evolved outdoors. It is a no brainer! Children know they need to be outside, playing; when we ask them they tell us so. Why would we not want children to have a natural childhood? The fact that we are even having this debate is an indication that something in our society is wrong and needs fixing.”

The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 710 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

Save the great British pud with the National Trust

After news yesterday that Britain is suffering from a “dessert deficit”, the National Trust is backing a Government Minister’s call to save the great British pudding.

After being appointed in this month’s cabinet reshuffle, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson urged people to be patriotic with their puddings, choosing traditional British recipes over foreign imports.

In an interview with Farmers Weekly, Paterson said: “There is a huge dessert deficit in this country. We have a huge opportunity to replace imported desserts with desserts made here.”

He encouraged diners to swap desserts such as crème brulee and panna cotta, which use imported dairy products, for traditional favourites like apple crumble, treacle tart and spotted dick.

The news comes as the National Trust prepares to launch its autumn pudding campaign, with free puddings throughout the month of October with every lunchtime meal purchased in its cafes and restaurants.

And the flavour of the month will be great British puddings, all made from seasonal ingredients – a reminder to visitors at National Trust places just how good a British pud can be.

A recent National Trust online poll of people’s favourite autumn puddings found that dishes using seasonal ingredients remained the popular first choice, despite the modern trend of year-round food availability using foreign imports.

Clive Goudercourt, Development Chef for the National Trust, said: “We pride ourselves on baking our own food using the best of British ingredients, many grown on National Trust estates and farms.

“We hope our delicious, home-cooked puddings will inspire people to choose traditional recipes and celebrate Britain’s best food across the seasons.”

Clive added: “British, seasonal food is tastier, fresher and more nutritious. It is better value, better for the environment and better for your wallet.

Delicious examples of fresh autumn food can be enjoyed for free when you spend over £5.75 on a main, lunchtime meal at over 100 National Trust locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To find out more about this offer, and to download free recipes to help save the Great British pud, simply visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/pudding and download a voucher (offer is valid from Monday 1st October until Wednesday 31st October 2012).

There’s also the chance to walk off those autumn puddings on a Great British Walk with the National Trust. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatbritishwalk for more information and to download hundreds of free walking routes.

Statement on bovine TB and badger culling

Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprise Director at the National Trust, said: “The National Trust is not involved in the pilot cull in Gloucestershire.

“We are strong supporters of vaccination as the long-term solution to this pressing problem. This is why we are running a badger vaccination programme at Killerton to help demonstrate the practicality of vaccinating badgers.

“We have consistently argued that any approach to tackling bovine TB in cattle should be science-led. All of the evidence points to the need for a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach to prevent transmission of the disease. This should include more rigorous measures to stop cattle-to-cattle, cattle-to-badger and badger-to-badger transmission.

“In England, we wouldn’t stand in the way of a pilot badger cull providing it was carried out according to best scientific advice. However, even if any pilots reduce TB in cattle, we don’t believe it will be possible to meet successful cull criteria over much larger areas.”

For a video on our vaccination programme and more information on this issue, visit our position statement:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/what-we-do/big-issues/food-and-farming/what-were-doing/view-page/item686759/

From Russia to Richmond upon Thames: Anna Karenina and the National Trust

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Being asked to attend both a screening and press conference for the new theatrical adaptation of Anna Karenina,(released today), is definitely something that most people would not expect to do when beginning your first day working as an Intern for the National Trust. Yet for me this happened and what a fantastic experience it was.

My day began previewing the film in a small screening room in London. Director Joe Wright’s reworking of Leo Tolstoy’s famous romantic but tragic novel, told the tale brilliantly of an aristocratic Russian woman stuck in a loveless, political marriage who finds her freedom, yet eventual upset, whilst undertaking an affair with a younger man.

Starring Keira Knightley in the lead and supported by both Jude Law as her husband, Alexei Karenin and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as her lover, Count Vronksy, the National Trust’s role comes from the great use of one its great places, Ham House.  

Located alongside the banks of the river in Richmond-upon-Thames, Ham’s Long Gallery takes centre stage, as the Count’s magnificent St Petersburg apartments, with numerous scenes featuring Keira and Aaron.

By mid-afternoon, whilst still in shock at watching a film for the first time with only a mere 15 other people, my day was to get even better through not only visiting Claridge’s but by also getting a chance to speak to the main stars as well.

As the actors filtered in and were introduced to the waiting crowd, each, for me, came over as calm, collected and very much (for once) like their public profile. As time went on and we came to the final question, me and my colleague finally got chance to ask about Ham’s role.

Wright discussed his career as a filmmaker, and described how he started out shooting on location but more and more he is moving away from real locations to studios, where he can create huge spaces to ‘layout out his dreams’.

The greatest response of the day, it has to be said, came from Knightley herself. When asked about rumours surrounding her supposedly being the actor who has filmed most within National Trust properties, she replied kindly by stating,

 “Yes, I must be! (Laughter) Can I get membership?’

Not only could this mean further Trust dealings with the star in the future (I hope so) but it also signalled for me the end to a memorable first day and one which creates great excitement for all the opportunities the Trust could offer me over the next 6 months. I cannot wait.

Jamie White, Press Office Intern