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Try a pint of Farmer’s Friend to celebrate a unique countryside initiative on the Marlborough Downs

Left to right: Farmers Laura Cooper, Suzie Swanton and Katie Guest help to fill a barrel with their Farmer’s Friend ale at Wadworth Brewery in Devizes last weekLeft to right: Farmers Laura Cooper, Suzie Swanton and Katie Guest help to fill a barrel with their Farmer’s Friend ale at Wadworth Brewery in Devizes last weekA unique farming project on the Marlborough Downs that may now be rolled out across the country deserves to be celebrated – and what better than with a pint of your own ale called Farmer’s Friend.

That’s what farmers Laura Cooper, Suzie Swanton and Katie Guest are tasting for the first time, a limited edition, four per cent ale produced by local brewers Wadworth.

It marks the fact that a year ago 42 farmers from the Marlborough Downs succeeded in their application for a three-year project grant from Natural England.  The aim was to protect and develop wildlife habitat and landscape conservation in the 225,625 acres of chalk downland that lies between Swindon, Marlborough and Avebury.

The project is led by the local farmers and supported by specialists and volunteers.  It aims to change the landscape so wildlife and agriculture can thrive together.

Birds and butterflies will benefit from the nectar rich habitats and ponds which farmers are creating and restoring across the Downs.

The project is tagged the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA) and is being looked upon as a groundbreaking venture that, if successful, might be rolled out across the rest of the UK.

So to celebrate the success of their first year, the farmers commissioned a limited edition Farmer’s Friend beer specially brewed using as one of its ingredients the hedgerow elderflower.

The ale is available for only a limited time in local pubs and at the MDNIA’s Open Farm Sunday at Rutlands Farm near Avebury SN8 1RH on the June 9 from 11.00am to 5.00pm.

On Open Farm Sunday – a free event for all families – offers a host of other delights. There will be tractor and trailer rides, a cows, sheep and pets corner, owls, bees and moths to see, a hog roast and barbecue – and all washed down with soft drinks or a pint of Farmer’s Friend.

 The farmers also plan to encourage children to help construct a tree sparrow 'village' to protect the now endangered species.

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