The East Devon Farmers Group was established in 2016 as the focus of a five-year farm facilitation programme in the heart of East Devon AONB.
By developing co-operation amongst land managers and connecting individual farms, the programme aims to increase the standard and scale of conservation management throughout the area and beyond.


The Countryside Stewardship (CS) facilitation fund supports initiatives that bring farmers, foresters, and other land managers together to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale.

The AONB team successfully secured (CS) Facilitation funding from Natural England to support the East Devon Farmers Group and deliver a programme of offers, workshops, training and advice – each building on the principles of partnership working to deliver environmental benefits.

Formally launched by Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Defra Select Committee, the group currently consists of 69 member farms whose land covers over 3900 hectares.

Members meet monthly, depending upon the challenges of the farming calendar and identify the areas they wish to develop in or learn more about.

The group have identified their main priorities to be improving water quality, increasing biodiversity and reducing flooding.



  • Increase the standard and scale of conservation management throughout the area and beyond.
  • Secure (CS) Facilitation funding from Natural England to help a newly formed East Devon Farmers Group.
  • Offer workshops, training and advice.



  • 2016 – Project start date
  • 2021 – Project end date (extended to 2022)


Workshops & Events

A variety of formats and topics including:

Manure Management and Grassland Soil Compaction aimed at tackling water pollution and run-off issues within the Facilitation area.

Getting value from your Hedgerows
looking at economic, woodfuel and wildlife potential of farm hedges, this also included an equipment demonstration.

Farm walks, sharing best practice and practical advice have also proved popular.

Additional Advice

On request from our farmer-led steering group we have added sessions to the programme, beyond the original environmental remit, which we are delivering with local experts.

Farm safety day and  book keeping sessions have been organised.

Members have also been offered other local training opportunities, including IT skill development run by Cosmic and business advice supplied by East Devon District Council through BIP.

Crop Trials

The use of alternative forage crops such as red clover, lucerne, kale and chicory can improve livestock performance, nitrogen use efficiency and animal health.

With the hot, dry summer of 2019 our alternative forage crop trials proved very timely and generated much interest. The trial area itself being a highly visible field of green in a parched landscape.

This mix of grasses and herbs root more deeply in the soil so can access moisture and nutrients not available to pure grass mixes.

East Devon Farmers, foresters and other land managers working together to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale.



  • We have run Mid Tier Stewardship workshops and sessions which have encouraged and supported 11 members to apply to agri-environment schemes (that is 20% of the members) for assistance with enhancing the environment and landscape of the AONB.
  • This Group is the focus for the Princes’ Farm Resilience Programme which we are supporting providing business advice to family farms to improve their viability and long term future.
  • So far we have learnt the importance of having nurtured strong links with our farming community and the importance of listening to the needs of the people who manage our outstanding landscape.


A Facilitation Team organises the group operations, led by the East Devon AONB Unit, in partnership with FWAG South West and the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat project.

A Facilitation Coordination Group, led by former NFU regional policy officer and former AONB Chairman Mike Ellingham and including a cross section of farming, woodland and land agent representatives, advises the facilitation team.


More to Explore

East Devon AONB Projects

We lead, partner and support projects that focus on a wide range of themes, including landscape and heritage, environmental quality and climate, biodiversity, recreation and tourism.

Outdoors & Active

Whether you prefer walking, cycling, running or playing, everyone feels happier and healthier when they spend time in nature being more active. 

East Devon Way

Discover the hidden gems of East Devon and explore this much loved walking route that links 40 miles of public footpaths, trails and bridleways.