Star role for reluctant YFC producer

Beef farmers from across Norfolk and Suffolk are invited to an open meeting at Saxmundham on Wednesday, January 18 to discuss the implications of the cross-compliance rules.

Beef farmers from across Norfolk and Suffolk are invited to an open meeting at Saxmundham on Wednesday, January 18 to discuss the implications of the cross-compliance rules. Dave Gardner, of FarmCare, from Leicestershire, will be speaking to members of the East Suffolk Beef Group at the group's regular monthly meeting place, the Queen's Head, 7.30pm. Farmer David Pratt, who runs a 90-cow commercial suckler beef herd near Halesworth, is the group's chairman and would welcome fellow producers to the meeting. Mr Pratt can be contacted on 01986 798330.

After two years in starring roles in the annual pantomime staged by Wymondham Young Farmers' Club, Simon Moore was looking forward to enjoying a slightly less stressful production. Then a fortnight before the curtain was due to rise on the latest production of Aladdin at Centrtal Hall, Wymondham, the lead actor had to retire from the fray. Simon had to exchange his co-producer's role to take front of stage. Anyway, the rehearsals have gone very well and now this young farmer, actually aged 31, is looking forward to the first of the four-night run from Wednesday. Plenty of tickets are available for productions on Thursday and Friday. Surplus proceeds will benefit the East Anglian Children's Hospices.

Members of the Norfolk & Norwich Horticultural Society are reminded that the annual meeting will be held at the John Innes Centre, on Norwich Research Park, on Tuesday, March 7, 7.30pm. After the formal proceedings, Janet Smith will give a talk on “Norfolk Oddities.”Incidentally, the society's membership secretary for the past three years is retiring. Anyone who can help, and has a computer, is asked to contact the chairman Richard Hobbs on 01603 714661.

A new trophy will be awarded for the best sample of wheat at Stoke Fgerry Agricultural Society's meeting on Tuesday. The competition hjas been split into two with a trophy to be presented for the best winter variety and the best spring wheat. Samples should be brought to Ryston Golf Club, near Downham Market, by 7pm for judging. The formal meeting will start at 7.30pm when Andrew Bury, who is a senior grain trader for Frontier and is based at Diss, will be speaking.

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After the festive season there's the opportunity to swap your discarded Christmas tree for bird food. If you take your real Christmas tree to Notcutts Garden Centre, Daniels Road, Norwich for recycling over the weekends, January 7 and 8 or January 14 and 15, you can be one of 400 people to claim a free voucher for a free pack of wild bird food (worth £1.69). Notcutts is one of the venues taking part in Norwich City Council's Christmas tree recycling scheme. You can take your real Christmas tree to Notcutts for recycling anytime after Christmas up to 15 January, but if you take it back over either of the two weekends, you can feed the birds for free as well. "The birds need our support throughout the year, but especially in the winter months, so here's your chance to recycle your tree and help our feathered friends," says James Debbage, garden centre manager.

Organisers of the Royal Norfolk Show have been asked to consider staging classes for Portland sheep. The breed, which originates in the heathland in Dorset, is a small and hardy. The lambs are typically born with a foxy-red coat, which changes in the first few months to a creamy white. It produces meat of an exceptional quality with a fine texture and excellent flavour, according to the East Anglian Support Group of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. For details, contact Alex Steven on 017766 407079.

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Norfolk Farm Machinery Club has arranged a follow-up meeting on spraying, cross-compliance and the rules on farm waste disposal on Monday, February 13, at Easton College. It costs £12 to Normac members and £25 to non-members. County organiser Chris Thomas, of Tunbeck Farm, Wortwell, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 0HP would appreciate cheques very soon to guarantee a place. It starts at 2pm, ending about 4pm.

Seeds of dozens of different varieties can be obtained at East Anglia Potato Day on Saturday, February 11. The organisers have moved to a new location, Stonham Barns, described as the mid-Suffolk showground. It is located at Stonham Aspla on the A1120, east of the A140. It runs from 9.30am to 4pm and entrance will cost £1.50, including a copy of Alan Romans' guide to the varieties available. And the good news for growers, the price per tuber has been cut from 15p each to 10p. Organiser Julian Turner said that tubers will only be sourced from the UK, which should minimise the risk of potato rot.

For 2006, Norfolk Organic Group will feature a series of five stories on the common theme of bring good organic or wholesome food to the community. The speakers at the Friends Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, Norwich, start with Richard Austin, of Rainbow Wholefoods, on January 30 followed by Nick Saltmarsh, of East Anglia Food Link, on February 27. David Barker, of Barker Organics will tell the grower's story, on March 27. Miller Mike Thurlow, of Letheringsett water mill, speaks on April 24 and Norman Olley, of the North Elmham Bakery, rounds up the series on May 22 - all talks at 7.30pm.

One of the highlights of Norfolk young farmers' drama calendar is the pantomime. Members of Wymondham will be staging Alladin at Central Hall, Wymondham, between Wednesday, January 11 and Saturday, January 14. Surplus proceeds will benefit the East Anglian Children's Hospices including Quidenham. Tickets cost £4 Wednesday, Thursday £4.50, Friday £5 and Saturday £5. £1 off for OAPs and underv 14. No concessions for the Saturday matine, tickets £3. Tickets from Merv's Hot Bread Kitchen, Town Green, or Sue on 01603 759545. It is produced by Simon Moore and Shaun Childerhouse.

the Christmas post

made a surprise appearance at Robin's new car, British Sugar's Christmas cards, closing factory dates, Karl Carter, donkey, Mardlers

A charity ploughing event is taking place on Tuesday, December 27, on land at Attlebridge provided by farmer Edward Jones. Supporters of the Norfolk Ploughing Society will be in action from 10am and should continue until the early afternoon. Donations will be invited in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance and the Willow Foundation. More than 60 veteran and vintage ploughs will be taking part and the event is fully booked, said the secretary Jane Bunting, of Skeyton. Teas and light refreshments will be available. The field will be signed off the the main A1067 Norwich to Fakenham Road.

It was just as well that auctioneer Keith Rose was concentrating on the bidding around the crowded ringside at Norwich Livestock Market's Christmas Primestock Show and Sale. As he was selling the reserve champion beast from North Norfolk farmer Tim Arnold, there was some spirited arm-waving from the auctioneer's box. As the bidding rose steadily to more than 300p per kg, one “buyer” was gesticulating frantically. Fortunately, Mr Rose did not realise that Ian Couzens, leader of Norwich City Council, who was standing immediately behind him, was trying to gain the attention of someone across the ring. Mr Couzens, who presented the trophies, had earlier promised the council's enthusiastic support to find a new and more suitable site for the livestock market. If he had bought a Limousin heifer for £2250, it might have been a costly exercise.

A briefing on the latest rules on cross-compliance, spryer use and farm waste disposal takes place on Monday, February 13 at Easton College, 2pm to 4pm. It costs £12 for members of the Norfolk Farm Machinery Club and and £25 to non-members. The speaker, David Felce, was excellent at last spring's conference. Chris Thomas, county organiser, points out that it would be a great deal cheaper to enrol an additional member than pay the guest fee. Details from Mr Thomas on 01986 788209 or send cheQUES TO Tunbeck Farm, Wortwell, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 0HP.

Holt and District Farmers' Club have invited a top speaker to Tuesday's meeting at the Feathers, Holt, when Prof John Alliston, dean of agriculture, at Cirencester Agricultural College, will be speaking at 8pm. Members of Stalham Farmers' Club meeting a week earlier than usual when John Lockett, of Agrovista, will be talking about a pilot project for recyling chemical packaging. The club meeets at Sutton Staithe, neat Stalham, at 8pm on Wednesday.

Organisers of the Spring Fling 2006 are planning dozens of attractions and exhibits with the theme, “Growing Up” at the Norfolk showground. The Spring Fling, designed to appeal to youngsters aged between four and 14, has become a bigger and bigger event over the years. There will be a maximum of 4000 tickets available for the event on Tuesday, April 11. It is jointly organised organised by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association and the EDP with a small committee of enthusiasts representing the various sectors of the food and farming industry. The tickets will cost £4.50 per head - all youngsters must be accompanied by a responsible adult - and will available from late January from the RNAA's office. The sponsors include the Clan Trust and the Clan Trust.

It will be a colourful new year for members of the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists' Society. The newsletter and magazine will emerge for the first time in colour in February. A colour supplement will also be added featuring some of the more unusual examples of the rare, beautiful and even the plain ordinary. And the society has a new supply of car stickers, which bear the swallowtail butterfly emblem. They cost £1 each and can be obtained from David Paull, 8 Lindford Drive, Eaton, Norwich NR4 6LT.

Supporters of the Norfolk Mill Group have an opportunity to visit the county's longest-established brewery, Woodforde's at Woodbastwick, for a tour and meal on Tuesday, November 22. Woodforde's recently won a national third bitter of the year competition with Wherry. The tour starts at 7pm prompt and the cost will depend on the actual number attending. The meal, with a choice of main courses, must be pre-ordered but costs £7.50. It is also an opportunity for some potential pre-Christmas shopping. Contact John Capps on 01508 480423 to book a place.

A tour of British Sugar's oldest-established refinery at Cantley was enjoyed by members of the Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society on Thursday evening. The visit had to be postponed last year but the Cantley beet sugar factory has a special place in the history of the home-grown sugar industry. Built in 1912, it was the first modern sugar factory in Britain after efforts to start the industry in Suffolk in the 1830s and again in the 1870s came to naught. The late August floods in 1912 severely damaged the factory, which enjoyed a fairly uncertain future until 1922/24. Today, it is British Sugar's third largest beet sugar refinery.

Members of the Norfolk branch of the Women's Food and Farming Union plan a trip North Walsham Farmers' Market on Saturday November 26. The market, which is held at the town's St Benet's Hall runs from 9am to noon. Members are invited to join the throng at the hall at 10am. Let the chairman, Felicity Daniels, know if plannming to attend on 01493 730338.

A meal and a chat is on the agenda for the November 17 meeting of the Norfolk Pig Discussion Group when veterinary surgeon Ian Hands will tackle topical issues. Members meet at the Wensum Valley Golf Club, 8pm, but an increasing number are enjoying a bar meal with the speaker from 7pm. There is no meeting in December but proceedings resume in January.

Members of the Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society have won another national award for fieldwork and recording. NIAS, which meets at the Charing Cross Centre, St John Maddermarket, Norwich, on the first Thursday of the month, undertook a comprehensive survey of the Thermos factory, Thetford, in 2001. Barre Funnell was presented with a certificate and cheque for £150 by the Association for Industrial Archaelogy at Nottingham University. As he explained, he really had little to do with the survey because Derek Manning and Peter Brown wrote the report and Derek Lyons filmed a video of the industrial process and Mary Manning recorded some excellent oral history from senior employees. The annual meeting will be held on Thursday, December 1, 7.30pm. Website,

Farmers' leader Tim Bennett has been invited to address the Norfolk annual county meeting of the National Farmers' Union. North Wales farmer Mr Bennett, who is standing for re-election as president at next February's national NFU conference in Birmingham, will address members at Easton College on Monday, November 28, 7.30pm. County chairman George Harcourt will give a brief report. There will elections for county delegates to the livestock board with Roger Long, of Scarning, standing for re-election. William Brigham, of Lyng, is also standing for the milk board. All NFU members are eligible to attend.

Ploughing enthusiasts will be welcome to take part in a special training event to be held near North Walsham on Sunday, November 20 by invitation of farmer Paddy Randell. The Norfolk Ploughing Society is arranging the day and several of the country's expoerts have been invited to attend including Stewart Bunting, who represented England at the World Ploughing Match in Switzerland and has qualified to compete at next year's European championships in Austria. Contact the secretary, Jane Bunting on 01692 538699.

One of the best speakers at a Holt & District Farmers' Club winter meeting for several years has been invited to address the 60th Oxford Farming Conference on January 3 and January 4. Land agent Eberhard Schultze, who was raised on the family's 75ha farm in Lower Saxony, near Hannover, is responsible for advising an agricultural charity with 25,000ha. He was invited to talk to Holt members by former Norfolk NFU chairman and county councillor Tony Williams. The keynote address will be delivered by Mike Johanns, who is the 28th Secretary of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and is the son of a dairy farmer, who went on to become Governor of Nebraska. The UK will be represented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainable Food and Farming, Lord Bach. His boss, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett clearly has higher priorities so early in the new year.

The RSPB is looking for farmers to take part in its free-of-charge workshops this autumn and winter on how to help farmland birds.

The workshops are expected to be of interest to farmers wishing to take part in Defra's Entry Level Stewardship scheme and to make the most of Government funds towards costs of managing farms in a wildlife friendly way.

These workshops are planned for the autumn and winter:

17 November 2005 Management for farmland birds South Elmham Hall, St Cross, Suffolk

8 December 2005 Farmland bird walk Ken Hill Estate, Sedgeford, Norfolk

15 December 2006 Management for farmland birds Grange Farm, Knapwell Cambridgeshire

10 January 2005 Farmland bird identification Lodge Farm, Carlton Scroop, Lincolnshire RSPB farmland adviser, Andy Cotton, says “One of the great pleasures of my work is meeting farmers who are keen to help wildlife on their farms. Defra's new Entry Level Stewardship scheme means there has never been a better time to put wildlife-friendly farming ideas into practice.”

More workshops will be held in February and March. For more information and to register for the free-of-charge workshops, contact Andy on 01603 697586, mobile 07841 804873

Norfolk young farmers must be gluttons for punishment because a massive YFC ball is planned for May 19, 2007! After the huge success of the 2004 event when more than 1750 members and former members attended the Norfolk showground, there is an appetite for more large-scale entertainment. Details of the “Event with a twist” will be announced next year - meanwhile, note the date. Inciendtally, the federation's annual meeting will be held at Easton College on November 10 at Easton College.

Visitors to Ryston Church, near Downham Market, will be able to see the so-called Kett's Oak, which is thought to have been planted in 1260. It was a landmark tree and when in 1549, rebels supporting the Kett brothers marched to Ryston, they camped before marching to Norwich. It is said that Archbishop Parker preached to the rebels from beneath the tree. The rebels took a fancy to the sheep grazing in the parkland and left a thank-you note, later inscribed on a tablet still fixed to the tree. It reads:

“Dear Mr Pratt

Your sheep are very fat

And we thank you for that.

We have left you the skins

To buy your lady's pins

And you'll thank us for that”

Livestock farmers can brush up on their marketing skills at a half-day conference and seminar on Monday, September 26 at Athelington Hall, near Eye. Organised by Ader (Agricultural Development in the Eastern Region), the speakers include Michael Richardson, eastern area manager for EBLEX (English Beef and Lamb Executive), and pig farmers, Peter Mortimer, of Metfield, and Jimmy Butler, of Blythburgh Pigs. Harleston butcher Peter Beales will presente a cutting demonstration, which is then followed by a hog roast. Tickets £10, including refreshments, from Jean Turnbull on 01449 711060 or or faxback on 01449 710141.

Tickets for the party can be obtained from Sally on 01359 269265, George on 01379 586226 or Jean on 01449 711060.

Entry to BASC, Telephone 01284 728752 or fax 728522; e-mail address:

Contact Martin Lainsbury, The Arable Group, Morley Research Centre on 01953 713207 or e-mail:

group's secretary Suzannah Coke on 01362 668023.

County organiser Chris Thomas 01986 788209 or from centre chairman.

contact Moya Myerscough on 01603 731257 or fax 741438.

(£20 to EEAOP members). Contact Bob Lever on 01945 880314. The East of England Apples and Orchards Project.

Julie West at Tastes of Anglia on 01473 785883.

Jim Gooderham on 01953 888263

Contact Keith Loads on 01328 878560.

It is available on 01953 681075 or

Tim Hirst n 01379 688601. He

Contact Mr Heal on 01284 728752.

Jennie Hipperson, secretary, has details of future events on 01953 605309.

Organiser Jenny Bilborough (on 01379 890520)

Details, 01362 637457 or Mr Carrick's mobile, 07860 72390.

said Mrs Turnbull, on 01449 711060.

Norfolk farmer Anne Wyatt., 01953 498221 or fax 01953 498555.

Skeyton farmer Stewart Bunting, who can be contacted on 07971 773552

secretary Katie Wright, on 01953 718173.

Labouchere. Details by e-mail: or telephone 01362 668306.

Wolterton Park Bygones Day, details from Johnathan Mears on 01263 860561.

Mr Austen 07801 659375 or 01485 570004.

Mr Howell, 077477 62800.

Norfolk Organic Gardeners, Janet Bearman on 01603 403415

West Norfolk Foxhounds. details, ring Jeremy on 01366 347378.

Steve Thomas. can be contacted on 07818 077346.

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