Farmers praised for looking to the future

Charley and Andrea Walker of  Barnside, Abbey St Bathan.

Charley and Andrea Walker of Barnside, Abbey St Bathan.

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Abbey St Bathans farmers Charley and Andrea Walker are the Scottish Rural Awards’ agriculture champions for 2017.

The annual Scottish Rural Awards are seen as the benchmark of success in Scotland’s countryside, highlighting the enterprise, skill and innovation of those who live and work in rural areas.

There are 10 categories, and for Charley and Andrea, who run an organic beef and sheep farming business based at Barnside Farm in the Lammermuir Hills, their success in the agriculture section was an acknowledgement of the ethos behind their business.

Home to 800 wool-shedding ewes and 80 Welsh black cows, the business has grown to its current size of 625 acres from a start of 30 ewes grazing on the village football pitch in 1993.

They focus on ecologically sustainable methods and their management of pastoral livestock farming is improving productivity and the environment, benefiting plants, animals and soil structure.

The judges said of Barnside: “CH & AK Walker are perhaps the perfect farming enterprise – self-sustaining, employing natural integration and mindful of their community and the importance of education.

“The dissemination of their message is a key part of their lives, and their integrated approach to agriculture harks back to the way farming used to be 150 years ago. They are innovative, forward-thinking farmers who show that pastoral livestock farming can improve productivity and enhance the environment.”

Scottish Countryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart said: “Land-based businesses contribute over £2bn to the Scottish economy. They are hugely valuable brand ambassadors for Scotland, and provide vital support to their local communities.”