Farmer Cluster Groups 

South Downs Farmers Group 
In 2016 18 farmers in the South Downs came together to form the South Downs Farmers Group. The group covers over 5,000 hectares, with new members joining all the time. The land within the South Downs Farmers Group is highly diverse with areas of lowland calcareous grassland, coastal and floodplain grazing marsh, ancient and native woodland and arable margins. The farmers have a shared passion to farm in a way which delivers public benefits, including high quality, affordable food, as well as enhancing the natural environment and local wildlife. To achieve this the group has set a number of objectives these include: 
  • Increasing the connections between habitats to improve the opportunities for wildlife.
  • Working with Portsmouth Water to deliver new soil, crop and nutrient management (including maximising the use of cover crops and fallow periods) to improve the protection of groundwaters used for public water supply. 
  • Priority species and habitat type work. The priority species are Lapwing, Grey Partridge, Barn Owl and Brown Hare. The priority habitat type is insect-rich habitats including on arable land.
  • Increasing partnerships and wider engagement to improve community understanding of and involvement in land and habitat management in the South Downs.
The Downs and Harbours partnership works very closely with this group through Portsmouth Water's Catchment Management Work, in which Portsmouth Water supports the facilitation of the group. This allows Portsmouth Water to work with these farmers to develop and support their catchment management delivery to protect and improve water resources quality. 
Chichester Farmer Cluster Group 
The Downs and Harbours partnership is keen to set-up a new farmer lead cluster group for the Chichester area including the low lying plain and the south downs. An initial drop-in workshop was held with farmers and other stakeholders in this area to sought interest and gather ideas for the formation of the group. Below are the two presentations from this workshop: 
 
 
Another workshop will be held in December to discuss the formation of this group further.
The cluster group is an opportunity to get farmers together in the same area, to share best practice and work with stakeholders like Portsmouth Water and Natural England who can support the group in delivering sustainable land management improvements.

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