This week Fisher German and the Rural Business Awards will be celebrating diversity in agricultural businesses, as six regional award winners compete to be crowned the overall winner of the Outstanding Rural Diversification Project 2020. Sponsored by Fisher German, the award is one of a number of categories which will be announced at the annual Rural Business Awards final on Thursday 27 February at the Monastery in Manchester. Over the past few weeks, we have been taking a look at each of the regional winners in the diversification category. Every year, a regional winner is decided in the North, Midlands, Wales & Northern Ireland, South West, South East and East, before an overall finalist is awarded in the national final. Let’s take a last look at each of the finalists hoping to win the national prize.
North - Spilmans
In the North, Thirsk-based Spilmans took home the Outstanding Rural Diversification Project award for their modern and family-friendly approach. Their arable and livestock farm has transformed over nearly 50 years with ‘pick your own’ events, from strawberries to pumpkins, a farm shop, café and agricultural-themes play barn where families can learn about farming. You can read more about Spilmans here
Midlands – Hall Farm Park
The winner of the Midlands diversification prize and Best Rural Tourism award, Hall Farm Park will be hoping to repeat their double success at the national final for their Lincolnshire based farm. With a variety of activities from go-karts and crazy golf, to alpacas and goat walking, the farm has become a popular tourist attraction which has more than doubled its visitors since it opened in 2006. Read more here
Wales & Northern Ireland – Clynfyw Care Farm
Giving back to the community is the core focus of Clynfyw Care Farm, which won the Wales & NI regional competition for its commitment to education and care. With eight people living in cottages on site with a respite service, and around 40 people visiting on a regular basis for a day service, the farm offers everything from arts and crafts, music and drama, to apple juicing and charcoal making. Find out more here
South West – Wadswick Country Store
There is very little that this Wiltshire-based store doesn’t have on offer to its customers. A destination country store attracting visitors from across the UK, Wadswick started off just selling potatoes and now its store incorporates clothing, gifts, animal feed, a shooting simulator, a 14-hangar airfield and a new café & restaurant which sources local ingredients. Find out more about its growth here
South East – The Grey Sheep Co.
The team behind The Grey Sheep Co are first generation farmers who transformed a purely arable farm into a thriving sheep farm, where they produce their own, unique British knitting yarns which are hand-dyed, and also focus on sustainable and ethical farming.
East – Corkers Crisps
This gourmet crisp company has been growing for 10 years, after the initial idea came to the owners on a skiing holiday. The distinctive flavour of their crisps is down to the peaty soil of the Fens where their Naturalo potatoes are grown and their success has seen the products placed in Waitrose and Ocado, along with various train routes and Easyjet flights. Read more about the team behind Corkers Crisps here
Head of Rural at Fisher German, David Merton, said: “The level of competition at this year’s awards is really outstanding. Each year we continue to be amazed at the approaches rural businesses take to diversify their income and create exciting business models which engage local communities. We are really looking forward to awarding the overall winner of the national Outstanding Rural Diversification Project and I strongly believe that any one of the regional winners is worthy of taking home the prize. Applications are already open for next year’s awards and we are delighted to be sponsoring this important category once again to raise the profile of the diverse rural businesses we have across the UK.”
Follow us on Twitter @fishergerman to find out more about the Rural Business Awards, and look out for the national winners to be announced on Thursday 27 February.