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Bayer/FACE Awards recognise farming as a skill for life

Bayer FACE Awards 2011

A farm that helps young people to find not only their best qualities, but also a skill for life, was selected as the overall winner in the 2011 Bayer/FACE Awards at a ceremony in London.

Rylands Farm, in Sherborne, Dorset, was awarded not only the ‘Countryside Careers Award’ for its impressive range of work experience and vocational teaching, but was then judged as the farm with ‘The Very Best in Farming Education’ from amongst the five finalists.

“To win a FACE award for a second time is amazing,” says Rylands Farm’s Julie Plumley, a former social worker who set up the 50 acre educational resource five years ago and won one of the inaugural awards in 2008. “Everything we do on the farm is focused around farming, but we teach other skills too – whether that’s plumbing, building or something equally valuable.

“Many of our children are referrals; kids who’ve been labelled as having ‘behavioural’ problems. But when they come to Rylands, we prove that they can learn, they can be taught, they can get a job and no, they won’t end up in prison.

“Rylands gives them the chance to do something, something they like – and that inspires them like nothing else. It is astounding to see how far they’ve travelled. That’s why I do it; it amazes me.”

For the judges, FACE’s Gary Richardson said in the citation, “Julie has a real belief in education and inspiration which, matched with her background in care farming, and a passion for local produce and history, has brought stability and direction to these young people’s lives. No 16-year-old involved with Rylands was left without a career path.”

Dr Chris Brown, head of food and sustainable sourcing at ASDA – a FACE sponsor for the first time this year – said every guest at the ceremony would surely want children ‘to have a better idea of where food comes from, how it’s produced and how food production goes hand-in-hand with maintaining the countryside’, giving examples of how ASDA had recently introduced ‘CowCam’, ‘ChickenCam’ and ‘CarrotCam’ as part of an extensive campaign which has also taken the firm’s ‘Dairy Bus’ to more than 25,000 schoolchildren.

Welcoming ASDA to the Awards, Andrew Orme, head of Bayer CropScience in the UK, said farmers desperately needed the public to understand and appreciate agriculture, and to understand what farmers are for. “Convenience and urbanisation are making it easy for consumers to become disconnected from their food, but that’s exactly what FACE is for.

“We need to reconnect to the food supply and show the public what UK farming plc actually does.

“The only reason the FACE Awards can happen is because farmers are prepared to invest time and often money in helping to achieve this vitally important educational task,” he concluded.

The Access Award went to Ian Steele, of Treflach Farm, Shropshire, who moved back from London to take on the family farm and take it forward in a different way; the Biodiversity Award to Ellie Goff, Butterfly Lodge Farm, Essex, who started her educational farm from nothing more than a two-bed caravan ten years ago; the Farm to the Classroom Award to Isabel Hands, Warriner School Farm, Oxfordshire, which the judges praised for ‘touching the lives of thousands’; and the Innovative Learning Award to Glendale Agricultural Society, Northumberland, and its project manager Sarah Nelson, for revitalising and reinvigorating a 120-year old institution which last year involved more than 45 schools in a Children’s Countryside Day.

Following the awards ceremony, FACE announced that its new President would be Lord Plumb of Coleshill, who would ‘champion and continue to champion the valuable work being done, in demonstrating farming as a career for the future’.

About Bayer CropScience

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 6.830 billion (2010), is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and traits. The company offers an outstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. Bayer CropScience has a global workforce of 20,700 and is represented in more than 120 countries. This and further news is available at:

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