The Melplash Agricultural Society Show is one of the South West’s premier agricultural events and is traditionally held at The West Bay Show Ground on the last Thursday before the August Bank holiday. For me it is one of the must go to events in the Bridport area social calendar and something I look forward to every year. Sadly, it has not possible to hold the normal shows in 2020 and a 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The good news is that all being well, the 2022 show will be held on Thursday 25th August, a definite date to put into next year’s diary.
This year the Melplash Agricultural Society has been able to deliver some of the events that can usually been seen on show day – The Garden and Allotment Competition, Discover Farming and the Homecrafts and Horticultural Show.
Garden and Allotment Competition
The Garden and Allotment Completion was judged over two days in June and having won the best small garden award in the 2019 competition, my wife and I were invited to be part of the judging team this year. The third member of the judging team was Jo Sage – Society Chairman in 2018-2019. We were accompanied by Society President Mr Nigel Jones and Society Chairman Mr James Vickery. Mr Peter Yeates and Mr Cliff Pitcher were the Stewards.
It was a great privilege to be able to visit all the gardens and allotments entered into this year’s competition. All of the entries were fantastic and really did showcase the hard work and dedication of the various gardeners. Every garden was different and the standard was exceptional which made the task of judging extremely difficult. A big thank you to everyone who took part for allowing us into your gardens and allotments and congratulations to all the winners. The winners were presented with their awards at the Homecrafts and Horticulture Show last Thursday. The images below show from top to bottom:
Small Garden Winner – Mrs Debbie McCarthy, Lyme Regis
Medium Garden Winner – Mrs Christine Corson, Beaminster
Large garden Winner – Mr & Mrs Tim and Sibyl Gale, Bridport
Allotment Winner – Mr Bob Link, Broadwindsor
Special Environmental Award – Beyond the Archway Allotment, Bridport
The Discover Farming event took place at Vurlands Animal Farm this year. Discover Farming takes the form of an interactive learning experience that aims to educate young people where food comes from as well as the importance of agriculture and the countryside. It was attended by 1000 visitors throughout the day.
When I spoke to Society Director and Discover Farming Chairman, Marcus Beresford he explained:
“Communicating with the next generation is vital to the future of farming. Our Discover Farming programme is the tool the Society uses to enable us to connect directly with young people. Not only do we aim to increase their understanding of where food comes from as a consumer but also to encourage them to consider the agricultural industry as a potential future employer.”
My wife and I were joined at the event by our daughter and granddaughters. We were all really impressed by the range of activities available and my granddaughters dived into them with enthusiasm.
Activities available on the day included:
· Drive radio-controlled tractors around the farm
· A virtual Dairy Farm tour
· Make and cook pancakes
· Juice apples and make smoothies
· Turn milk into butter
· Build Charlie’s barn
· Find out more about livestock
· Have a go at wool spinning
· Milk a cow and much more.
The images below give a flavour of the event.
Society Director and Discover Farming Project Manager, George Streatfeild commented:
’The day was an unmitigated success – our activities didn’t stop from doors opening until they shut again. We had almost 1000 visitors all keen to get involved in understanding from where their food comes from and how it is produced as well as learning about countryside careers opportunities. Our 50 volunteer helpers haven’t talked that much for a very long time! A huge thank you to them for given up so much time, our sponsors for their generosity and special thanks to the Ives family for allowing us to host the event at Vurlands Animal Farm.’ http://www.vurlandsanimalfarm.co.uk/
Discover Farming is much more than this one off event, to find out more go to: https://www.discoverfarming.co.uk/
Homecrafts and Horticulture Show
The Homecrafts and Horticultural Show was held in its usual marquee at the West Bay Show Ground on what would have been show day 2021. With over 900 entries the event was a resounding success. Sadly visitors to the event were restricted to those associated with the entries which meant the general public missed the opportunity to marvel at the perfect and giant vegetables, stunning flowers, wonderful home made jams, preserves and wines, and a range of art and craft items all produced by extremely talented local growers and makers.
As judges of the Gardens and Allotments competition earlier in the year we had the pleasure of meeting once again and presenting the awards to the winners. Following which we watched the awards being presented to the winners on the day and the joy on their faces as their names were read out told us how much it meant to them. There are some extremely dedicated and talented people out there and the quality of some of the flowers and vegetables on display reminded me that even after a lifetime of growing in my various gardens and allotments I still have some way to go to achieve the same standard as the images below show.
The following evening my wife and I joined the members of the Melplash Agricultural Society at a reception held in the Homecrafts and Horticulture marquee which had been beautifully decorated with the floral exhibits left over from the event the previous day.
We are blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world which although sculpted by natural forces into a lovely undulating landscape I prefer to describe it as an Area of Outstanding Agricultural Beauty. The ongoing management and stewardship of the land we all love visiting and enjoying is down to many of those people who were in the marquee that evening. Farmers, many of whom have been working the land in this area for generations, and others taking on a piece of land for the first time, are all acutely aware of the responsibility they have for providing us with high quality food and maintaining habitats where nature can thrive. Anyone who has tried growing their own food will know how challenging and frustrating this can be. There is nothing that wildlife likes more than the easy pickings to be found on our plots.
We arrived at the evening event knowing very few of the people in attendance but were warmly welcomed by all and came away with a strong sense that we had been given a peep into the rural world that surrounds the town of Bridport where there is a great sense of history and community with a strong support network and they certainly know how to enjoy themselves.
Roll on Thursday 25th August 2022 when the next Melplash Show is due to take place. Hopefully it will be back to the full scale show we all know and love. To keep up to date with news go to: https://www.melplashshow.co.uk/
My thanks to Tim Russ for the use of the photographs he took at the various events.