Throughout February we are counting down to the national final of the Rural Business Awards – an annual celebration of the best in the British countryside. Six regional winners will battle it out on Thursday 27 February at the Monastery in Manchester to be crowned national winner of the Outstanding Rural Diversification Project, proudly sponsored by Fisher German.
One of the finalists is South West winner, Wadswick Country Store – a destination country store in Wiltshire complete with shooting simulator that has continually diversified its offer and client base over 50 years. The store, near Corsham, will be competing against other regional winners including Cork-ers Crisps and Lincolnshire based Hall Farm Park. Owner Tim Barton runs Wadswick alongside his wife, Carolyn, and his children, Joanna and Alex, who have rejoined the business after completing degrees at university and careers elsewhere.
He said: “My father bought the farm all the way back in 1968, and I started working on it not too long after that. The first way we diversified was by selling homegrown potatoes – and since then, we’ve just grown and grown. We began to specialise in the equestrian market in the early 1990s and over the last thirty years have developed a business that also sells country clothing, gifts and accessories, pet and animal feed and bedding, and has a gunroom. Whether a customer is into country sports, spectating, or just enjoys dog walking and the country life, we have something for them. We’ve recently added an indoor shooting simulator to the offering, where customers can practise their marksmanship in the comfort of our store, and ‘Forage’, a new café and restaurant specialising in locally sourced ingredients.
We also have an airfield with 14 private hangars. We are getting an increasing number of visiting planes coming to shop and visit the new catering facilities. Business is healthy at the moment – we’re attracting customers from all over the West Country and South Wales, and some even travel in from as far away as London. It would be lovely to win the national award – it was a great honour to win the South West version so we’ll be very proud regardless of the result.”
David Kinnersley, Head of Agribusiness at Fisher German, presented Wadswick with its regional award.He said: “Wadswick is a brilliant example of the possibilities of diversification and what it can do to diversify a farm’s income. Since it opened its shop, which only sold potatoes, Wadswick has become a real destination for shoppers looking for the best in country wear, equestrian and shooting products, as well as a place to relax and enjoy the countryside. Innovative attractions like the shooting simulator have encouraged people to visit from far and wide. We wish Tim, Carolyn, Joanna and Alex all the best in the national awards.”
The Best Rural Diversification Project category recognises farms that have gone above and beyond to offer something different to bring in more customers. Read more about the fi-nalists on our news page, or follow us on Twitter for updates @fishergerman