Farming Oscars winners announced

  • Posted

Posted 29/10/2012

More than 230 farmers, their employees and families swopped overalls for black tie on Friday 26 October, to celebrate at the Suffolk Agricultural Association’s (SAA) inaugural Agricultural Awards dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich.

The inspiration of Suffolk Show Director David Nunn, the awards are the amalgamation of the Suffolk Farm Business Competition – open to all farms in Suffolk – and the Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) Awards for diversification businesses throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. The BALE award, initiated and sponsored by Ashtons Legal, is now in its 21st year. The award celebrates the hard work and dedication shown by those who undertake diversification initiatives.

David commented: “Our competitions have been running for many years. We thought this was the appropriate year to give them, and the competitors, the high profile they demand and really turn them into a major event where we can all learn from, and celebrate, the winners. We have nicknamed the awards the ‘Farming Oscars’ and we are looking forward to making this even bigger and better next year and inspiring people from all over the eastern region to enter.”

The evening was hosted by Elmswell Farmer Peter Over. During a glittering ceremony, GU pudding founder James Averdieck inspired the audience with tales of his experiences of creating a new market category in the food sector and how he had taken his innovative luxury chocolate dessert business from zero to £50m in just eight years.

A GU pudding is reputedly eaten every two seconds, he told them, and the audience were able to experience this remarkable pud for themselves later during dinner.

The BALE Award was presented by Jonathan Long, Head of Agriculture & Estates at Ashtons Legal, to Peter Havers for his Log Cabin Holidays Business based at Athelington Hall near Eye. Inspiration for the business came from seeing upmarket cabins at the Suffolk Show in 2003.

Now he has a site of 11, some with deck top Jacuzzis, which feed off the wedding marquee business Peter and his family also run from the 127 hectare farm. It all began with Peter realising his farm was not going to generate enough income to sustain the younger members of the family. He also still runs a hog roast business.”It was certainly a challenge to switch from working with pigs and machinery, to the full on nature of the service industry,” said Peter.

Runners-up were Jason and Katherine Salisbury for Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses. The couple have a built up their dairy herd to 40 and annually produce 27 tonnes of cheese under three brands, over half of which is exported.

Simpers Deben Shellfish run by the Simper family, who are reviving the Native Oyster in the Deben, won the best newcomer and the Best Green Practise went to Guy Foskett who runs Foskett Willows, supplying a quarter of the pre cut lengths needed to produce cricket bats in the world. Freddie Flintoff’s came from the Ufford based farm.The evening was concluded by SAA’s president elect, Stephen Cobbald who thanked all the entrants, sponsors and judges and urged members, especially the younger ones, to continue with their enthusiasm for farming so the competition might become an increasingly important annual event, showcasing the best in well run and diversified businesses in the eastern region.


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