Westhorpe farm gains praise in Government’s 25-year Environment plan

Patrick Barker, David Barker, Jo Churchill, Bury St Edmunds MP, Brian Barker and Roy Barker

Westhorpe farmers E J Barker and Sons have been mentioned for their good practise in the Government’s 25 year environment plan.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, highlights the farm as a good example of how the environment and modern day farming can work together. The farm has just come to the end of a 10-year higher level stewardship scheme and is now entering a further higher tier scheme which protects the environment.

The 514 hectare farm is run by David and Roy Barker and family and has protected large numbers of threatened species through using non profitable areas of farmland as wildlife habitats.

Using hay from the village green, a county wildlife site, fresh areas of farmland have been converted into hay meadows. Plant and wild bird seed mixes have enabled rich reservoirs of small bird habitats to be created and David’s son Patrick has ringed a total of 11,700 birds during the scheme, some 1,200 of these being yellow hammers. Barn owls amd brown hares have also thrived under the farming practices and 30 ponds and 43 kilometres of hedgerow have protected birds and insects.

David said: “If you take a sympathetic approach to agriculture it makes for both good crops and an abundance of wildlife.”

The Barkers have won environmental awards for their farming practices and David has recently stepped down after a 10 year stint as chairman of the board of Suffolk: Creating the Greenest County.

He said: “I think Michael Gove has a very good understanding of where we are and what needs to be done for the environment.

“It was a surprise for us to be mentioned in the plan. I was stunned.”

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