Digital Innovator of the Year

2020 Finalists

Sponsored by Fullwood Packo

Highlighting farmers embracing digital platforms to grow their business, communicate with customers and improve overall public perception.

Chris Franklin, Caenhill Countryside Centre, Wiltshire

The main aim of Caenhill Countryside Centre, a not-for-profit organisation, is to educate. Helping children learn in a farming environment, Chris and his team work with schools, colleges, children with disabilities, organisations and many more. Boasting thousands of social media followers and millions of video views thanks to their entertaining and comedic commentary, their strong following has allowed the centre to continue on what could have been worrying times during Covid-19 still gaining funding, donations and volunteer help. Chris’ determination and dedication to the animals, his team and the children he educates exudes through his personality, as does his commitment to teach children about agriculture.

David Hill, The Greatest Online Agricultural Show, Berkshire

As coronavirus decimated the 2020 agricultural show season, David Hill knew many would be missing their local agricultural show. What began as a fundraising idea in March to bring local farmers together during a lonely time, became a hugely successful event, raising thousands of pounds and uniting the agricultural industry and the general public. In just over five weeks, the event boasted more than 800 competition entries, 250 sponsored trade stands and more than 6,000 visitors to the online platform over the weekend. Around £18,000 was raised for five rural mental health charities and the initiative was picked up by media outlets, with snippets from competition entries going viral on social media and gaining millions of views.

Anna Jones, Just Farmers, Bristol

Anna Jones, a farmer’s daughter from the Welsh borders, has been a journalist and national broadcaster for more than 12 years. Upon completing a Nuffield Farming Scholarship looking at how mainstream media covered agriculture news, Anna discovered a complete detachment between farmers and urban news platforms. Sparking the idea for Just Farmers in 2018, Anna has gained multiple grant bursaries to facilitate workshops aimed at training farmers how to effectively communicate better with the public. More than 40 farmers have welcomed the opportunity and are now available to work alongside mainstream media outlets with many more due to join the initiative at a crucial and topical time for the farming and food production industry.

Jo Martin, Rural Business Network, County Durham

Farmers wife, Jo Martin, has lived and breathed agriculture from a young age and, after establishing her own baking business, realised she would have benefited from further support and signposting as a new business. She launched Rural Business Network as a membership community where people can meet, learn from each other and gain valuable training and resources as well as accessing on-line events and advice. She now has more than 20 members from up and down the country and plans for the membership to increase will allow her take on a new team member and offer more services.