We are thrilled to be sponsoring the national final of the upcoming Rural Business Awards since they were first launched in 2015. The awards recognise rural initiatives that have gone above and beyond to offer something different to its customers. Two of our colleagues, Molly Dickson and Louise Duffin, will also sit on the Rural Business Awards’ judging panel to help choose the overall winners.
Nettlecombe Farm Holiday Cottages and Fishing Lakes, in Whitwell will now go head-to-head with four other finalists in the Best Rural Diversification Project in an online national final on Thursday 24 February.
Nettlecombe Farm is nestled in the Isle of Wight countryside has diversified to offer unique holidays as well as free educational experiences to young people in its local community. It has reached the national final after already winning the East regional final.
The farm has been in the Morris family for more than 100 years, and owners John and Josie Morris first diversified to set-up a bed and breakfast in the farmhouse 40 years ago. They then went on to convert the outbuildings into luxury holiday cottages and set up a farm experience where guests can explore the site, meet the animals and take part in a farm feeding tour – getting close to animals including sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, alpacas and emus. The farm is also focused on giving back to the community and opens its gates to provide free educational visits to schools across the area.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the holiday cottages were made available to keyworkers and the business experienced a bumper season in 2021 as people looked to take advantage of staycations. The farm has a total of nine luxury cottages which sleep between two and ten people and there is a yoga studio on-site which is let out to teachers in the area. A massage therapist is also based on the farm at weekends.
Josie said: “We were extremely pleased to win the Best Rural Diversification Project award in the regional finals of the Rural Business Awards – something that is testament to the hard work and commitment of the fantastic staff at the farm. Nettlecombe Farm is a wonderful site that has been regenerated while ensuring that its farming roots remain right at the heart of the business. We are extremely popular with repeat customers and have been lucky enough to welcome generations of the same family as those who visited us as youngsters return as adults with their own children. We’re also focused on giving back to our local community and educating children about animal care and careers in farming.”
David Merton, Head of Rural and based at our Ashby office said: “Nettlecombe Farm is an excellent example of how diversification can help expand a successful business and have a positive impact on the community. It is fantastic to see how it not only gives holidaymakers the opportunity to experience life on a working farm, but also looks to inspire young people and educate them about the sector.”
Nettlecombe Farm’s fellow category nominees are The Coo Shed in South Ayrshire, Jimmy Birchmore Events in Warwickshire, The Enbarr Foundation in Wales, and Musgrove Willows in Somerset.