New Entrant: Against the Odds

2020 Finalists

Sponsored by KW

Highlighting the determination and adaptability of new entrants coming into the industry.

Martyn and Claire Eastham, Eastham and Chippindale, Dorset

Having risen through the ranks in varying industry job roles, Martin and Claire have overcome various challenges to fulfil their dream of farming in their own right. Selling milk to Barber’s Cheesemakers, the couple run a 120-cow spring calving system on their county council farm as they seek to maximise milk from forage, and have found this low-cost approach makes them more resilient when and if the milk price fluctuates. With a young family, the couple are also keen to strike a balance between life on-farm and spending time with their children. To that end, they take time to develop their own mental wellbeing and resilience via the Focused Farmers initiative.

Ben Lowe, HB Farms, Aberdeenshire

Not originally from a farming background, Ben Lowe operates a 160-hectare tenancy which is focused predominantly on arable enterprises, complemented with a bed and breakfast pig enterprise and winter cattle. With a lifelong passion to be a farmer, Ben studied at the Scottish Agricultural College and worked as an agronomist for Agrovista, a job he still undertakes alongside the farm. Ben has been selected for Leaf’s new Resilient and Ready initiative and joins four other forward-thinking farms throughout the UK in a three-year programme to adopt more sustainable farming methods, build business resilience and gain the skills and confidence to go on to become industry innovators and leaders.

Ross and Kirsty Williams, R. & K. Williams, Aberdeenshire

With careers off-farm and a young family, Ross and Kirsty have transformed Upper Tullochbeg Farm since 2013. The 195-acre unit, owned by the Forestry Commission, consists of pedigree and commercial cows and sheep, 400 turkeys reared for the Christmas market and a swathe of forage crops and grassland. Casual labour is sought when needed but the couple only employ people who are young or new to agriculture, to encourage their businesses. Mitigating climate change is a key focus with investment in soil fertility and particular breeds to maximise production per hectare. A vast reduction in antibiotic usage has also been implemented, positively impacting on the livestock, their management techniques and variable costs.

Rachel Yarrow and Fraser Norton, Norton and Yarrow Cheese, Oxfordshire

Inspired by a newspaper article profiling an artisan cheese producer, Fraser and Rachel left their jobs as a project manager and teacher respectively, to start their own farming and food business. Now, with 150 Anglo Nubian goats, the couple have a rolling tenancy with the Earth Trust in Oxfordshire and have forged a brand of unpasteurised, artisan cheese, producing up to 1,200 award-winning cheeses for sale nationwide each week. The couple employ six part-time employees and business growth is constantly reviewed to improve profitability and efficiencies. They are currently researching how to manage the goats on pasture most effectively as a way of improving sustainability and also reducing feed costs.

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