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A HARPENDEN farmer has been named Britain's rural hero by the Countryside Alliance.

Ian Pigott, who runs Annabel's Farm near Kinsbourne Green, beat off competition from television presenters Clarissa Dickson-Wright and Janet Street-Porter to claim the title at a House of Lords reception yesterday.

The award recognises his efforts to bring farming to the attention of ordinary people, in particular founding Open Farm Sunday, a successful national event.

  Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart, who chaired the national judging panel, told the gathering: “Ian caught the judges’ attention due to an innovative approach to supporting farming through education and promotion.

“Realising that misunderstanding about where our food comes from was damaging our food industry, he set about changing attitudes through enabling first hand experiences for all.

“Simple ideas are often the best, and Farm Sunday has a simple aim: to reconnect farming with the consumer. It is a national event that opens the countryside up to a whole new audience and promotes farming in an accessible way, Farm Sunday saw over 400 farms fling open their gates at events in 2008, benefiting producers and visitors alike, and giving many of the younger generation their first experience of a farm.

"Ian, we all applaud what you are doing for an industry that we all support.”