Ipswich: Top of the crop celebrated at ‘Farmers Oscars’

A LOG cabin diversification was among the farm businesses to take top honours at a new agricultural awards last night.

The awards – nicknamed the Farming Oscars – saw more than 230 farmers, farm employees and families turn out at Trinity Park, on the outskirts of Ipswich.

They are the amalgamation of the Suffolk Farm Business Competition, which is open to all farms in Suffolk, and the Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) Awards, which celebrate diversification businesses in Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

Peter Havers picked up the BALE award for his Log Cabin Holidays business at Athelington Hall, near Eye. Mr Havers was inspired by seeing some upmarket cabins on display at the Suffolk Show in 2003.

He now has 11 on site, including some with deck-top jacuzzis.

Runners-up were Jason and Katherine Salisbury for Creeting St Mary-based Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses.

The couple 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, scooped Best Newcomer award.

Most Read

The Best Green Practice award was won by Guy Foskett who runs Foskett Willows, based at Ufford, which supplies a quarter of the pre-cut lengths needed to produce cricket bats in the world.

Suffolk Agricultural Association’s David Nunn, the brains behind the new awards, said: “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.”

Among the winners in the Farms Competition were Jonathan Pirkis of Debach, near Woodbridge, Mike Porter of Walpole, near Halesworth, and Patrick and Brian Baker of Westhorpe, near Stowmarket, for their conservation efforts.

The evening, hosted by Elmswell farmer Peter Over, included a speech by Suffolk-based GU pudding founder James Averdieck, who took his innovative luxury chocolate dessert business from zero to �50million in just eight years.

Small Farm

Fletcher and Dunt, for Park Farm, Charsfield and Potsford Farm, Letheringham

Best Livestock Enterprise: Sarah Robertson of Valley Farm, Wickham Market

Best Crop: Fletcher and Dunt for wheat

Best Conservation: Jonathan Pirkis of Keens Farm, Debach

Medium Farm

Michael Hinsley of Saker Estates, for the Rushford Estate

Best Arable Crop: JR Grimsey, Raydon Hall, Orford and Lodge Farm, Sudbourne, for sugar beet

Best Conservation: Mike Porter of Hillfarm, Walpole

Large Farm

John Brown and sons of Church Farm Hawstead, Bury St Edmunds

Best Arable Crop: RH Forrest and Co, Mowness Hall, Stonham Aspal, for his sugar beet

Best Livestock Enterprise: David Black and Son of Red House Farm, Bacton

Best Conservation: Patrick & Brian Barker of Lodge Farm, Westhorpe