The annual Melplash Agricultural Society’s Farms competition gives farmers living within a 12 miles radius of Melplash village church, the opportunity to gain recognition for their business skills, good husbandry and dedication to looking after the countryside. There are three categories – Small (up to 300 acres), Mixed Large and Large Dairy. Each category is judged by a team of judges who assess the overall management of the farm. They look at the profitability, the farming system, the crops, and the livestock. Special awards in each category are given for conservation and environmental practises and for the best ley.
SMALL FARMS Judge: Mr Chris Griffin, Sturminster Newton
1st – Mr James Wallbridge, Bridge Farm, Hooke
2nd – Mr & Mrs David and Ruth Wilkins, Rampisham Hill Farm, Rampisham
3rd – Mr Matthew Bagwell, Wytherston Farm, Powerstock
Best Ley; Mr James Wallbridge, Bridge Farm, Hooke
Best Environmental: Joint winners; Mr & Mrs D Stover, Lower Brimley Coombe Farm, Stoke Abbot and Mr Matthew Bagwell, Wytherston Farm, Rampisham
LARGE FARMS Judge: Mr R. Parris, Taunton
1st – Messrs Newman, Larkham Farm, Holywell
2nd – Mr Brian Huxter, Symondsbury Estate, Symondsbury
3rd – Mr & Mrs Nick Bragg, Frogmary Green Farm, South Petherton
Best Ley: Mr Stephen Raymond, Childhay Organic Dairy, Beaminster
Best Environmental: Mr & Mrs Nick Bragg, Frogmary Green Farm, South Petherton
LARGE DAIRY FARMS Judge: Mr R. Dare & Mr J. Hurford
1st – Mr Will Frost & Mr Julian Kennard, Forde Grange Goats and Forde Abbey Farm, Chard
2nd – Mr James Bowditch, R.B. Bowditch & Son, North Bowood Farm, Salway Ash
3rd – Mr Edward Bowditch, Cooper Dean Estate, Parnham Farm, Netherbury
Best Ley: Mr Edward Bowditch, Cooper Dean Estate, Parnham Farm, Netherbury
Best Environmental: Mr Arthur Crutchley, Crutchley Farms, Nettlecombe
A total of 18 farms around the area were judged. The winner of the large farms category, Mr Bernard Newman who farms Larkham Farm near Evershot with his wife Sheila and son Tim. The farm boasts 900 acres and rear dairy replacement heifers. They have 1700 head ranging from 1 week to 2 years old, after which they return to the milking herds. In the summer, they are outside on grass and housed in winter fed on grass silage and whole crop wheat. Animal welfare is their top priority. “Having been associated with the Society for many years, it is a great honour to have won the competition and for the work we do to have been recognised. We would like to thank the Judges for giving their valuable time” said Bernard Newman.
The winners of each category will receive their awards from the Society’s 2017 President Mr Ralph Newman at the Melplash Show on Thursday 27 August.