An important time for farming in the Lakes

Will Cleasby, Farming Advisor in the Lakes

Last autumn we welcomed Will Cleasby to the National Trust team of specialists in the Lakes. Will is from a farming family in the Eden Valley and brings an important mix of skills and experience which give him a respected voice in the farming community. Now one year into his role as Farm Advisor Project Manager, Will describes why this is an important time for farming in the Lakes.

'In this super- connected information age, farming and its practices and traditions seems to be rarely out of the media spotlight.  Questions from the public, politicians and farmers about what type of farming the nation requires are often discussed passionately and publicly. 

'As a charity that owns and manages one 5th of the Lake District National Park, we at the National Trust are currently implementing a Farming Action Plan to help answer some of these questions. 

'The plan will helps us provide the best possible support for our tenants both now and in the future to deliver the type of farming that maintains this fantastic landscape in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable way. 

Many of the objectives we are working on in the Farming Action Plan have been developed with partner organisations and one of the most important objectives is improving relationships with our tenants and the wider farming industry. 

'We are doing this by setting up meetings and forums with our tenants and the wider farming industry – it’s good to talk, as they say.  This will lay the foundations for developing a shared understanding of the issues and challenges and ultimately shared solutions.  

'Of the many projects we are working on in the plan, perhaps the most important one is about nurturing and developing the next generation of farmers and land managers for this special and internationally important landscape. 

'The great news is there are lots of young individuals, couples and families who want to take up the challenge of farming in the Lake District both new and from our existing tenant families. 

'Through the Farming Action Plan we are working with these people to help them become the next generation to carry out the important job of farming the Lake District in a way that respects traditions but also provides answers, solutions and products that delivers all of society’s wants from this special landscape. 

'These are exciting and challenging times for anyone involved in land management, achieving what we all want will require us all to cooperate, listen and work together more than ever which is why we are working on the ‘Better at working together farming action plan.'