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9 rural associations in Kent making a difference

PUBLISHED: 15:57 12 September 2016 | UPDATED: 15:57 12 September 2016

We are talking about Kent's amazing rural associations

We are talking about Kent's amazing rural associations


Rural associations, clubs and institutions make unique contributions to our county’s way of life. Words by: Pat Crawford. Pictures by: Manu Palomeque and Thomas Alexander

They work individually and in partnerships. They advocate, protect, promote, enhance, inform and advise. They are concerned with the countryside and our unique landscape. They are responsible for food production.

Sustainability features high on the agenda. They do a grand job and we should celebrate the part Kent’s rural associations play in making our county individual and very, very special.

Kent County Agricultural Society (KCAS)

President: Alastair Campbell, 4th Baron Colgrain

Chairman: Kevin Attwood

The public face of KCAS very much relates to the Kent County Show. Held in July every year, the show is the major showcase for farming, food, the countryside and the rural way of life in the Garden of England (see page 130 for coverage of this year’s event).

KCAS has a number of charitable and other objectives and makes several awards that benefit farming and other rural industries.

The latest initiative relates to the setting up of a scholarship scheme that will help to fund up to nine students through a full-time college or university degree course at a UK-based institution in Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry, Viticulture, Equine, Veterinary and Animal Management, Environment and Conservation.

Banner reads Banner reads "Why farming matters in Kent"

This makes a vital contribution at a time when some food–producing sectors are recording a shortage of graduate and skilled entrants. Membership is open to all those wishing to support and promote the valuable work undertaken by KCAS.

Get in touch: 01622 630975 or

Country Land and Business Association (CLA)

Kent branch president: Philip Merricks

Kent branch chairman: Professor Allan Buckwell

The Country Land and Business Association is a membership organisation (formed in 1907) that represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses. There are 850 members in Kent.

The CLA ‘speaks for everyone who believes in a living and working countryside… through the experience and expertise of members and staff, the CLA promotes interests and influences decision-makers to ensure the positive development of the rural economy’.

The CLA has a voice in the media and lobbies to ensure members’ interests are demonstrated to Government. The in-house professional team provides members with impartial information and advice.


Get in touch: Robin Edwards (SE Regional Director) 01264 313434 or

Rural PLC (Kent)

Chairman: Michael Bax

Directors: Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Charles Tassell and George Jessell

Rural PLC provides a voice and a platform for the county’s farming and food sectors. Launched in 2011, it lobbies for investment in skills, in training, research and development and also assistance in farm diversification.

Rural PLC creates opportunities for business growth and development and works with the media to strengthen public awareness and understanding of the rural sector industries.

The Careers App developed for RURAL PLC by a Kent-based company, identifies rural careers in six major categories. The app lists job vacancies in all sectors and, by providing information, encourages young people and those seeking a change of direction to investigate potential careers in the land-based sector.

Get in touch: Jane Hambly 01622 814345 or

Kent Young Farmers

The Kent Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs was established in 1945. A rural organisation for anyone between the ages of 10 and 26 who has an interest in the countryside and rural affairs, it is not necessary to be a farmer in order to be a member.

Kent Young Farmers have a reputation for being particularly active and their programmes are diverse and innovative. The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs is one of the largest youth organizations in the UK.

Get in touch: Jo McNamara 01322 363361 or

The Rural Business Group

Leader: Pat Crawford, on behalf of Hadlow College.

The group, which has more than 400 members, is for those running, working in or wishing to enter any rural business and for those with a genuine interest in the sector. Membership, which is free, is also open to students, members of Young Farmers’ Clubs, School Farms and more.

Members, whose ages range from mid-teens to mid-eighties, include people with professorships, doctorates and other professional qualifications, which gives excellent networking opportunities.

No rural industry is ruled out and visits have been made to cheese makers, wine producers, top and soft fruit growers, a granary, breweries and dairy farms. Monthly meetings are held at Hadlow College or at pre-arranged venues.

Get in touch: Pat Crawford 07771 635684 or

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE KENT)

Director: Dr Hilary Newport

CPRE KENT was founded in 1929, making it just three years younger than the national organisation which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. It is a registered charity.

The CPRE wants to see a protected countryside within the context of a healthier economy and a happier community, which it does not view as mutually exclusive.

Better planning is a primary objective; new life in the countryside will emerge through affordable housing, transport and vital services and new business shaped by rural communities.

CPRE is politically independent and relies solely on donations and grants. Its 2026 report, A Vision for the Countryside, is available on the central website,

Get in touch: Dr Hilary Newport 01233 714541 or

Kent Smallholders

Kent Smallholders was formed in 1987 with the help of Hadlow College, to which the group remains affiliated; monthly meetings are held at the college. Members are like-minded people who enjoy the rural way of life. Programmes, which are very diverse, are devised to fulfil the interests and needs of members

Get in touch: Suzie Faubert 01959 523098 or Christine Fuller

Kent Wildlife Trust

Chief Executive: John Bennett

The county’s leading nature conservation body, Kent Wildlife Trust was formed in 1958 and manages five visitor centres and 65 nature reserves covering 8,000 acres. It is supported by more than 31,000 members and some 1,000 registered volunteers.

The Trust aims to protect and improve habitats in the countryside, coast and town for the benefit of the wildlife and people of Kent, it campaigns against inappropriate and damaging development and educates and inspires young people.

The Trust is working to create a living landscape, where the past diversity and abundance of wildlife have been restored to land and sea, where wild places are reconnected to produce a robust and vibrant countryside to be enjoyed by everyone.

Get in touch: Ray Lewis 01622 662012 or,uk.

Kent Farmers’ Markets Association (KFMA)

Chairman: Benjamin Dent

KMFA has grown in size and importance and today there are more than 1,000 markets every year at more than 50 different sites around the county. Numbers are increasing as interest in and demand grows for high-quality, locally produced food and drink from known sources.

Markets are weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

Get in touch: Bob Taylor 01732 833976 or

Did you know?

More than 85 per cent of Kent (amounting to 302,327 hectares) is officially designated ‘rural’ and accounts for 19 per cent of the South East’s rural land. A total of 300 rural settlements are made up of 13 larger rural towns and 162 villages, with small hamlets making up the remainder. Although Kent’s rural population is generally greater than other parts of the South East, Romney Marsh is the only area in the South East that is classified as ‘sparsely populated’.

These statistics indicate the vital importance of the contributions the rural organisations and associations make to the Garden of England. They benefit individuals, communities and the county as a whole. They deserve our recognition and our support.


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