The National Park Authority has recently welcomed a new farming officer to join its team, tasked with supporting the Lake District farming community.
Claire Foster has moved to the Lakes from Yorkshire and brings with her a wealth of experience that stands her in good stead to hit the ground running in her new role, which she describes as a passion, not a job.
Claire has farming in her blood as she was brought up on her parents’ tenanted arable farm just outside Leeds. She knew that she wanted to work in agriculture, so studied Sustainable Land Management at Askham Bryan College near York.
Her farm adviser career started with a role at the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), based at Thirsk. It was this job that took Claire into Nidderdale, where she lived for 12 years, working on a variety of projects including Catchment Sensitive Farming, as well as facilitating a farmer group in Upper Nidderdale and developing projects with the Nidderdale AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) team and Yorkshire Water.
During her work as an independent farm adviser in Yorkshire, Claire has supported predominantly upland beef and sheep farmers to access many environmental grants and schemes. Added to this is seven years’ experience as Farmer Coordinator for The Farmer Network, covering Nidderdale and the Eastern Yorkshire Dales. But she recognises that much of her working knowledge of upland farming is linked to her time spent living in Nidderdale, and her connection to Swaledale sheep.
She said: “Although it’s sad to leave the farming community of Nidderdale where I have spent the last 12 years supporting farmers there and living at the very centre of this community on a beef and sheep farm, I felt the time was right for a new challenge.
“I’m looking forward to getting out and about meeting Lake District farmers and attending shows and shepherds’ meets to get to know more about Lake District Farming methods and learn about this incredible landscape.
“I know the Lake District is very different to the upland areas I have previously worked in, particularly with commoning and fell farming and their respective challenges. But I know that many farmers are facing an uncertain future, and I am ready to learn fast and work hard to be able to improve this outlook.”
Claire joins the farming team as the Farming in Protected Landscapes grants programme goes from strength to strength. The funding has helped 161 projects already and there’s more than £1.4 million still available in the Lake District National Park before the end of the programme in March 2025.
Through this programme the National Park wants to meet the needs of the farming sector during the agricultural transition and reach farmers in the greatest need. The team wants to support more farm clusters working together to secure food production, support nature, address climate issues and protect cultural heritage.
For more information on the Farming in Protected Landscapes visit www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/fipl
Photo caption: Our photo shows Newly appointed Farming Officer Claire Foster left who joins Farming Assistant Eliza Hodgson on right.