Celebrating excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in Scottish nature conservation, the search has begun to find conservation heroes for the RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards in association with Scottish Natural Heritage. Among this year’s nine award categories, the Food and Farming Award returns for a third year to recognise our good food champions.

The way we farm and produce food affects the environment. Sometimes this can have a negative impact but many farmers, crofters, food businesses and organisations are doing things differently to help wildlife, taking steps to reduce their own environmental footprint and helping others do the same. From wildlife-friendly farmers to cafes and caterers reducing food waste and sourcing ingredients sustainably, this award seeks to celebrate nature heroes in food and farming across Scotland.

Jim Simmons, Ruthven Farm

Winning the 2017 Food and Farming Award, the judges praised Ruthven Farm run by the Simmons family for embracing the responsibility of caring for biodiversity, running a commercial business and providing an inspirational model for others to do the same. Based in Tomintoul, Ruthven Farm is an excellent example of how to farm productively and benefit wildlife at the same time with its rich mosaic of habitats from meadows buzzing with insect life, native woodlands planted strategically to provide habitat connectivity and natural flood management. Jim Simmons is also an advocate of farming for biodiversity and is regularly invited to talk to other farm managers and hosts farm tours to inspire others.

The team behind Castlemains Climate Change Focus Farm were also highly commended for their three year project showcasing measures that farmers can take to minimise their carbon footprint whilst also reducing input costs. If you are operating your farm with nature in mind, apply for the Nature of Scotland Awards today.

Ruthven Farm

It isn’t just about farming and crofting, but also about food from farm to fork. We all need good food to eat so it’s critical that we produce our food sustainably. That means taking greater care of the natural environment on which food production itself depends. It also means reducing, and ultimately ending, the wider negative impacts of our whole food system, including its impacts on wildlife and climate. Sustainable food businesses with creative solutions for the environment are also strongly encouraged to apply. The Nature of Scotland Awards Food and Farming category aims to recognise and celebrate those who are already making great strides on this journey.

Let's celebrate the achievements of the inspirational people, projects and organisations working hard to protect Scotland’s precious natural heritage. Nominate a person, project or business dedicated to supporting our environment or submit your own project and tell us what you’re doing to support nature!

The Nature of Scotland Awards shortlist will be unveiled at a Parliamentary Reception in September and the winners will be announced at a prestigious Presentation Dinner on 22 November at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh. Successfully shortlisted entries will receive two complimentary tickets to the dinner hosted by inspirational BBC TV presenter Kate Humble and BBC Scotland’s presenter and wildlife expert Euan McIlwraith.

Find out more about the awards and submit your application by 11 June by visiting rspb.org.uk/natureofscotland.