A huge variety of projects from across Bedfordshire entered the 2021 Living Countryside Awards, CPRE Bedfordshire said the judges faced a difficult but rewarding task.
Better places to live – winner – Abbey Fields Roundabout Group (Elstow)
The Abbey Fields Roundabout Group have replanted and taken on the care of all five roundabouts on the Abbey Fields estate in Elstow, planting shrubs, trees and flowers. The group has recently created a picnic area on the Abbey Fields Moor, with picnic tables, a planter box and trees providing a place for people to rest when walking on the Moor. During Covid the Group felt strongly that they made a difference by showing the community hope and care. The judges praised the way the community has engaged with the project and the different themes on the roundabout.
Made in Bedfordshire – winner – Riverside Dairy (Carlton)
This family farm sits along the banks of the River Great Ouse as it meanders through the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside. They use the fresh milk from their free range, pasture fed herd of cows to make artisan ice-creams. The herd of cross-bred Jerseys and Friesians produces high quality milk which is just perfect for making ice-cream. Customers not only love the taste of the ice cream, but love the fact they can see the cows, and that the ice cream has been made on-site, becoming far more aware of food provenance, food miles and standards. The judges were impressed with the shift to a more sustainable way of farming – and the ice cream.
Connecting people and countryside – winner – Houghton Hall Park Kitchen Garden (Houghton Regis)
The volunteer group brings together a host of varied members of the community. The produce and flowers that are sold provide healthy and sustainable options for the community, and all the profits from sales are ploughed back into the project. This is a holistic way to engage with nature and help with the issues of mental health, food poverty and healthy choices at the same time. The work that the volunteers produce is also a draw for the public, who often visit the park just to see the latest display. The garden is managed using sustainable methods and uses recycled items where possible. The commitment and creativity of the volunteers and staff that worked as a team to create this wonderful community garden stood out for the judging panel.
Bedfordshire Choice – winner – Treewell Community Farm (Moggerhanger)
Chosen by people of Bedfordshire through an online vote, with more than 3,000 votes cast in total. Treewell was a dilapidated chicken farm when Richard and Meghan bought it nearly two years ago. The 30 vegetable patches which were disused and a beautiful Victorian greenhouse in a state of disrepair. The Community Farm now has over 30 volunteers who have transformed the land and grow their own vegetables for free. The project has provided an excellent opportunity for people struggling with mental health issues or for those who don’t have gardens.
The full list of winners including highly commended and commended projects, alongside
films featuring the winners can be found at 2021 Living Countryside Awards.