THE impact of Storm Dennis on Worcestershire’s farmers is still being assessed, but they are likely to be counting the cost of the severe weather.

So we are reminding everyone that this fabulous industry, on which so much of our prosperity relies, deserves applause.

Our Three Counties Farming Awards aim to do just that.

We are showcasing the best of agriculture in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, and will be presenting awards to outstanding candidates for praise at a gala dinner at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, in June.

One of those nominated for an honour is a hop farmer who is passionate about his crop, and who gives his time freely to help brewers.

Singing the praises of Simon Parker, who cider fruit, bramley apples, soft fruit and cobnuts as well as hops at Instone Court, Mundersfield, Herefordshire, is Ant Stevens, of Ledbury Real Ales, who has nominated Simon in the Fruit/Hop Farmer of the Year category.

“I have been dealing with Simon for a few years as I purchase his hops for the production of our real ales. For example, I use the Progress hops he grows in our Ledbury Bitter.

“Why Simon and Instone Court are so important to brewers is the passion that he shows and the time he gives (freely) to educate local brewers to get the best from local hops,” said Ant.

He said Simon even planted three old hop varieties just for local brewers to use to produce special seasonal green hop beers.

Simon is also promoting the ‘Hopshires’ – Herefordshire, Worcestershire – and Shropshire, and educating brewers and the public with meet-the-grower evenings organised with local landlords.

Ant said Simon wants the growing of hops to be more sustainable and wants to ensure that hops are grown locally for generations to come.

Simon’s own farm has a family history dating back to 1919. He now runs it with his wife, Elaine, and as well as hops and fruit the couple have free-range chickens and Ryeland sheep.

A farm vending machine also sells produce grown on the farm and from others.

The Three Counties Farming Awards are run by Newsquest, publisher of the Redditch Advertiser, Three Counties Farmer and titles across the three counties.

Categories include Fruit/Hop, Cattle, Sheep, Pig, Poultry and Arable Farmer of the Year, Conservation, Family Farm, Young Farmer, Farming Hero and Farming Contractor, as well as an award for Outstanding Achievement.

To nominate visit