The selected shortlist of five companies has highlighted a vibrant economy with a real mix of new farming enterprises. All the entries demonstrate a determination to create new income streams and a willingness to tap into new trends to secure the future of the family farm.
The Glendale Agricultural Society Award for New Enterprise in conjunction with George F. White award recognises businesses established by an existing farm business anywhere in Northumberland within the last five years.
Entries are judged on innovation, viability and their contribution to the local economy now and in the future.
The shortlisted enterprises are:
1. Springhill Farm Accommodation Bunkhouse and Wigwams brainchild of mother and daughter team Julie and Sarah Gregory. By converting their disused farm buildings and installing a Bunkhouse and five coastal Wigwams, they now offer a full range of holiday accommodation from budget camping and caravanning to award winning five star self catering in two converted byres. The project provides a vital second income stream for the 500 acre mixed organic farm which has been in the family for three generations. The company now employs 10 local people as well as offering a number of seasonal roles and creating work for local suppliers.
2. The Barn at Beal has profited from an increasing interest in environmental issues. Farmer Rodney Smith combined a passion for farming and the environment creating a centre to help people make the connection between the two. An old cart building on the 450 acre farm at the gateway to the Holy Island Causeway has been transformed into a highly successful caf, conference venue and education centre, an additional Birds of Prey Centre has also been added. Suppliers, food and staff are all sourced locally.
3. Swinhoe Farm Riding Centre near Belford was established by Claire Nixon in 2005 and now employs two members of staff. Incorporating fifteen stables and an outdoor arena Claire offers tuition and livery to customers from across the North East. In 2007 she officially opened a pony club which today remains the most northern branch in the UK. During the last five years, she has worked tirelessly to improve both the standards of the facilities on offer and her own personal standards of tuition; she is a qualified BHS 11 and NVQ Assessor and a BHS Riding and Road Safety instructor.
4. Kielder Organic Meats Catering is actually a diversification of a diversification project. Originally Michelle and Colin Anderson started selling their organic meat direct from Dunterley Farm in Bellingham Hexham and at local farmers markets and food festivals. However, when recession hit, the demand for cheaper meat had a significant effect on their business, loathed to give up on all the hard work they had put in to create their reputation, they decided to specialise in event catering. Their reputation was secured when they were chosen by Walk the Walk Charity Patron HRH Prince Charles to cater for over 1700 people at all its large events and as a the official contractor for this year's Tall Ships visit to Northumberland.
5. Pastures New Equestrian at Boghall Farm in Ponteland was also created in 2007, when the farm was facing financial crisis as the price in milk continued to fall. The family took the decision to sell their dairy herd and have since transformed the farm into a vibrant equestrian centre. Run by Ian Robinson and his mother Anne, the farm buildings and land to offer 12 full livery stables, horse walker, solarium and arena. The centre hosts a programme of eventing and dressage events and has been appointed the British Dressage Society's official North East Venue for its affiliated dressage competition. The centre has created five jobs.
The overall winner will be presented with their award and 500 prize at The Glendale Show on August Bank Holiday Monday.