Suffolk Agricultural Association’s Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) farm diversification awards is open for entries

All Weather Access - Best Newcomer 2016. From left, Henry Savage (AWA), Ruth French (winner of the 2

All Weather Access - Best Newcomer 2016. From left, Henry Savage (AWA), Ruth French (winner of the 2015 BALE) Jonathan Long (Ashtons Legal) John Wall (SAA president 2016) - Credit: SAA

An annual competition for East Anglian farmers who have diversified their businesses was launched this week.

J & D Papworth Farms, which came second in the BALE awards 2016.

J & D Papworth Farms, which came second in the BALE awards 2016. - Credit: SAA

Suffolk Agricultural Association’s (SAA) celebrated Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) award is now in its 26th year.

The prestigious award, sponsored by Ashton Legal solicitors, is open to farm businesses in Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

The annual award is the only one of its type in the region and recognises and rewards imaginative and commercial alternative non-agricultural uses of the land and positive effects on the local economy.

Previous winners have included a cheese making enterprise, log cabin holiday accommodation, a wedding and outdoor event venue, a farm shop, care home and a children’s nursery.

MPS Agri Ltd winners of the 2016 BALE Award.

MPS Agri Ltd winners of the 2016 BALE Award. - Credit: SAA

This year’s judges are Jonathan Long, partner and head of agriculture and estates at Ashton Legal, the Earl of Iveagh, president of the SAA, and Wendy Houston, from last year’s winning enterprise, MPS Agri Ltd. Judging takes place on September 28 and 29.

Contestants vie for the first prize of the Ashtons Challenge Cup and £2,000 worth of legal advice. The second-placed entry and the best newcomer both receive £1,000 of legal advice and there is a £500 legal health check for the Best Green Practice.

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Winners will be announced at the annual SAA Agricultural Awards dinner at Trinity Park, Ipswich, on October 19. All entrants receive two complimentary tickets to attend.

Wendy said their award had helped them to evaluate what they had achieved and encouraged them to look forward.

Suffolk Food Hall - Best Green Enterprise 2016 at BALE awards.

Suffolk Food Hall - Best Green Enterprise 2016 at BALE awards. - Credit: SAA

“To be recognised amongst such a high level of entrants as winners was a huge boost to us both personally and professionally and more importantly, to all of our staff,” she said. “The competition highlights the industries tucked away in rural locations bringing innovation, employment and opportunities to our region and has raised our profile significantly.”

Jonathan expressed delight at sponsoring the award once again. “I am always astounded by the high quality and sheer variety of the entries we receive each year and look forward to this year’s judging process,” he said.

For entry details, visit www.suffolkshow.co.uk/bale_awards. Entry costs £20.

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