Country Show a Great Family Day Out

This week I am in the company of Rowan Allan who is putting the finishing touches to the 2018 West Grinstead and District Ploughing Match which this year is being held at Priors Byne Farm, Partridge Green on Saturday 15th September.

The West Grinstead and District Agricultural Society Ploughing Match Hon. Secretary, Rowan Allan

Rowan Allan, the societies long serving Hon. Secretary, says “Priors Farm is always a popular venue. John and Alison Ford always give everyone a warm welcome – it’s our third time here and the agricultural community is looking forward to coming together once again.”

John Ford’s farm is mixed arable with a herd of Sussex cattle.

This year the farming community have been facing the challenges of the freezing, wet spring and the long hot, dry summer, against the backdrop of a government exploring changes of emphasis in the nation’s support of our vital farming industry with the uncertainty that has brought.

An increasingly urban society can sometimes seem out of touch with farming’s important role in stewarding the land, practising good husbandry and sustainable food production with a deep understanding and respect for the environment and the natural world. My experience of the farming community is that they are passionate about their responsibilities and rightly proud of their stewardship.

Rowan comments “Balancing one’s heritage and nature with the needs of food production is perfectly possible.”

The West Grinstead and District Ploughing Match and Agricultural Society has been holding shows for over 140 years. It seeks to re-connect town and country and educate the public.

Rowan says “The ploughing match provides a shop window for people to engage with what farming and the countryside are really about.”

The society’s bursary programme continues to provide financial support to enable and encourage young people to take up careers in the agricultural industry.

One of the current beneficiaries of a bursary is Kobe Hedgehock. He is rising 15 and is continuing his academic schooling whilst studying at Plumpton College as well.

Rowan explains “Kobe wrote to us and his Headmaster to take a day out to attend the course – it’s helped him focus on his school work as well as beginning a path in agriculture. We’re delighted that the bursary and our support made it possible.”

Creating vocational opportunities like this through education is remarkable and hope filled.

Rowan tells me that alongside the twelve classes of ploughing, ranging from Novice to Open, the ever popular Horse Ploughing and Vintage steam will be very much in evidence. This year entrants ranging in age from 14 into their 80s will be competing.

The ever popular lamb handling session

Alongside the Livestock Show there will be a parade of Hounds, Terrier racing, a Clay Pigeon Shoot, Field and Produce competitions and the marvellous Harris Fun Fair with their classic rides – the lamb handling sessions are always a favourite with youngsters – fun for all the family!

I will be supporting Rowan and this year’s Chairman, Mark Streeter, at Priors Barn Farm, Partridge Green, RH13 8EQ on Saturday 15th September for the 2018 West Grinstead and District Agricultural Society Ploughing Match and Show. Entrance is just £6 per person with children under 14 free – it’s going to be a fantastic family day – I hope to see you there!

For more information contact Rowan Allan at H. J. Burt through www.hjburt.co.uk or go to www.westgrinsteadploughing.co.uk.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

2017 Plough Match and Agricultural Show

Robert Jameson’s steam winched plough
Robert Jameson’s steam winched plough

This week I am in the company of Rowan Allan. We meet as Rowan prepares for the 2017 West Grinstead Annual Plough Match and agricultural show, which takes place this coming Saturday 16th September 2017 at Weston’s Farm, Itchingfield, Nr. Horsham, RH13 0BD.

Rowan Allan of H.J. Burt
Rowan Allan of H.J. Burt

Rowan Allan is a partner at the land agents H. J. Burt at Steyning and Henfield and has been the Honorary Secretary of The West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society for nineteen years. As a Chartered Surveyor and a Fellow of the CAAV he has strong professional and personal links with the rural and agricultural community in Sussex. He explains that H. J. Burt has been associated with the Society and show since 1887 and says “The show seeks to honour and learn from the past whilst looking confidently to the future. It’s a shop window to enjoy and learn about the countryside whether that’s farming or country pastimes. We keep an eye to the past so that an older generation can show off their skills and trades that otherwise would be lost.”

I

Lamb handling classes at the show
Lamb handling classes at the show

comment that it can sometimes seem that life in the countryside is increasingly misunderstood by those living in towns. Rowan responds “We put on lots of activities like the young lamb handling classes at the show. They are an opportunity to connect those of us living in towns with the rural way of life.” The Society seeks to educate and make apparent how important the vital work of the farming and rural community is to our nation. Horsham’s MP, Jeremy Quin, is President of the Society this year. It is a hopeful thing that Mr Quin clearly understands that Horsham is at the heart of a rural community.

This year’s show is being hosted by David Exwood at Weston’s Farm. David started with just a 100 or so acres and now farms more than 1500 acres. His success is down to his skill, resolve, hard work and the remarkable relationship he has built with Christ’s Hospital as a tenant farmer over many years. It is exciting to witness patronage like this of rural life and farming. David’s sons, Tom and Fred, have grown up on the farm. Tom is now working in the farming world and Rowan acknowledges the importance of looking beyond the current generation to the future.

It is fitting that David Exwood and his team have been voted the overall winner of the ‘2017 Best Farmed Farm over 500 Acres’ by the Society in this strongly contested category. It is one of many awards made by the Society every year in support of farmers.

The Society works tirelessly throughout the year to bring together, encourage and support this generous rural community and they deserve our thanks.

Ian Williams and his plough team in action
Ian Williams and his plough team in action

This weekend the ploughing match will be supported by displays, competitions, merry-go-rounds, traction engines, livestock shows and handling sessions – so much to delight the family. I hope to see you there!

The 2017 West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society Annual Ploughing Match and Country Show is going to be a fantastic family day whether you are from town or country. Entry is just £6 per person with no charge for children under 14. For more information contact Rowan Allan at H. J. Burt through www.hjburt.co.uk or go to www.westgrinsteadploughing.co.uk.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.