Diversification Innovator of the Year
(Small to Medium)
Sponsored by NFU Mutual
Showcasing the farm businesses which no longer just operate behind a closed gate, as farmers look to add value to their core enterprise.
David and Felicity Brown, Hoe Grange Holidays, Derbyshire
David and Felicity Brown successfully identified a niche in a competitive marketplace, which has grown and been built upon without losing the personal touch of a family-run accommodation venture. Their four log cabins specialise in accessible accommodation after initial market research suggested there was a demand for it. There is a wide range of extra equipment, and the couple work a local care company to offer bespoke care packages and can arrange for any more unusual equipment to be hired in if required. More recently they have additionally diversified by building two luxury glamping pods, a vintage gypsy caravan and, with the farm adjoining part of the National Pennine Bridleway, also cater for guests to bring their horses on holiday.
Andrew and Jenny Jones, Rackery Retreat, Wrexham
Family is at the heart of glamping diversification Rackery Retreat, run by Andrew and Jenny Jones with the help of their three daughters Vicky, Gemma and Larissa. Today the farm is predominantly an arable operation together with a small beef herd, with the glamping venture born after the couple made the difficult decision to sell their milking herd following Andrew’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease in 2018. Promotion of the retreat is mainly done via social media and their approach has seen the business build up a significant following in the last 18 months, thanks in the main to working and collaborating with bloggers and influencers as well as posting regular content.
Claire Kennerley, Gruff Outdoor Learning, Cheshire
Creating an outdoor learning environment and play experiences for all ages is central to Gruff Outdoor Learning’s ethos. When founder Claire Kennerley saw an opportunity to invite schools to visit the family farm to share her knowledge and passion for farming and the countryside, she knew she had to make it happen. What began as a series of free trial sessions soon developed, with social media promoting the venture which teaches visitors where food comes, how it is grown and harvested. Indoor developments, including a new shed with a log burner to give more options in poorer weather and colder months and an adjacent outdoor play area, has seen a 50 per cent increase in attendees.
Nicola Sanderson, Senwick Leisure, Dumfries and Galloway
A multi-pronged approach is proving the key to success for Paul and Nicola Sanderson, who run a mixed livestock enterprise alongside their diversification ventures which specialise in agri-tourism. The farm comprises 500 ewes, a growing herd of Shetland cattle and 2,000 free-range laying hens, which the pair combine the running of with a direct selling business via farmers’ markets. Senwick Leisure began with alpaca trekking and more recently expanded to include premium, boutique accommodation. A range of alpaca experiences are also offered to suit all budgets and levels of fitness, and thanks to their idyllic backdrop, is proving popular with families and couples alike.