2023 Living Countryside Awards – the results!
Below you will find the stories behind the winning projects along with the full results of the 2023 CPRE Bedfordshire Living Countryside Awards.
Bedfordshire Choice Award – winner: Friends of Windsor Drive Community Open Space
More than 1,600 votes were cast by the people of Bedfordshire, with the Friends of Windsor Drive Community Open Space picking up over a third of all the votes.
The Friends campaign as a community group to keep the green space at Windsor Drive, Houghton Regis, as an open green space to be enjoyed by the whole community. They bring people together for community events, celebrations and activities such as litter picking, keeping the Houghton Brook, which runs alongside the space, clear and free flowing, fitness sessions and Jubilee parties. Alongside this, they have worked with the community to submit petitions, held and attended community meetings, established other methods of campaigning. People can come together to enjoy the space, improving mental health and wellbeing, and protecting wildlife habitats at the same time.
The way the group has led positive change, turning the space into a real community asset with an inclusive ethos.
Made in Bedfordshire – winner: Warden Abbey Vineyard
Warden Abbey Vineyard is a not-for-profit community vineyard originally planted by monks during medieval times at the Cistercian Abbey of Warden. It now runs as part of Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity as a unique resource for the local community. Volunteers are integral in caring for the vineyard, as well as carrying out historical research, vineyard tours, organising events and more. Not only does the local community benefit from the vineyard, but so does the local environment. Wildflowers are encouraged to grow wherever possible, and nesting birds/insects are welcomed.
The emphasis on inclusion and wellbeing for both volunteers and visitors, alongside preserving Bedfordshire’s heritage.
- Aragon Lacemakers
- Hillside Market Garden
- Chris Dodson Thatching Services Ltd
- Hay Lane Flowers
- Morgan Pell Meats
Grassroots and green shoots: winner – Inclusive Farm
Inclusive Farm has been created to show people with disabilities a route into agriculture and give them the confidence to pursue a worthwhile and fulfilling career. They rear a variety of livestock and poultry, some of which are processed and sold locally. Inclusive Farm provides an opportunity for students and people with disabilities to learn practical skills such as animal husbandry and more.
The inspiring can-do attitude of the team and the way the project could act as a blueprint for others to follow.
- Dunstable Wombles
- Edible High Town
- Save Steppingley Road Field
- Share: Flitwick & Ampthill
Keep it wild: joint winners – Friends of Harrold Odell Country Park / Barton Hill Farm
Barton Hill Farm is an arable farm which takes increasing the biodiversity on their land seriously. They are adding new habitats, creating environmental features and maintaining hedgerows sympathetically. Wildlife is encouraged through lapwing nesting sites, barn owl boxes, bat boxes and over 40 “skylark plots” which are used by skylarks and hares for foraging and sunbathing. Education is a key part of their environmental work and they run farm walks and work with local schools to help children understand where their food comes from.
The ways in which the farm goes the extra mile to create habitats for wildlife and their willingness to engage with the public.
The Friends of Harrold-Odell Country Park are a group of volunteers that support all aspects of work in the park. For four days each week, they help with practical projects that benefit wildlife, maintain and enhance habitats and make the park more accessible and safer for all users. They help look after woodland, wildflower meadows, hedgerows, a community orchard, river meadow, wet woodland, lakes and river habitat. The Friends have paid for volunteer training and supported people getting experiences helping them back into work.
The sense of community amongst the volunteers and the variety of ways in which they are engaging visitors with the biodiversity of the country park.
- Friends of Studham Common
- Bradgers Hill Wilder Futures
- Mowsbury Hillfort
- Putnoe Wood