The Growing Resilience: Farm and Rural Liaison Project focuses on working with farmers and rural communities to deliver sustainable land management. This is a part of wider work to protect and improve rivers and waterways in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. The project is funded by the National Lottery Climate Action Fund and is in partnership with Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council. The project’s intentions are to support broader landowner engagement to be able to deliver projects that enhance natural processes to store carbon, improve habitats, provide natural flood management, biodiversity gains, and water quality improvements.
The project deliverables will be centred around carbon storage mostly in the soil, to better cope with climatic stressors which have key water and ecological impacts. This is as healthy soil underpins a resilient landscape.
Engaging with farmers and rural communities is a slow process, we started the project by planning to spend the first six months building up resources and making connections with existing local groups, in order to have something of value to offer farmers and landowners. This has proved a successful strategy, and the Trust now has a number of resources to draw on for future engagement activities. These resources include soil testing equipment; online learning materials and capability to produce more online courses; a collection of information leaflets, both our own and from the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) and Natural England; and a more fully developed website and social media presence. These resources, along with developing relationships with local environmental organisations, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, the Environment Agency, and South Pennines Farmers Group, have allowed us to begin to contribute to other groups’ events and to host our own.
Getting in touch with other Rivers Trusts, and benefiting from their experiences and advice has been invaluable in shaping the direction of the project and the legacy we hope to leave behind it. We have been particularly inspired by the wider Rivers Trust movement, and what longer-established trusts have achieved, but this project has given us the opportunity to work out how best to make farmer and landowner engagement work for the Calder catchment.
The most effective way of opening up new avenues for engagement has simply been to take an interest in the activities of as many groups as possible. You never know who has links to who, and providing a talk or activity to one group, and making time to chat to them, can easily lead to further and bigger opportunities to make a difference.
Level of carbon storage in the soil.
Overall health of the soil.
Quality, health and biodiversity of rivers and waterways.