Innovative Norfolk farms listed among best in the country

Rebecca Mayhew at Old Hall Farm in Woodton

Rebecca Mayhew at Old Hall Farm in Woodton, which has been shortlisted among the finalists for the British Farming Awards - Credit: Nick Butcher

Farming innovators in Norfolk are celebrating recognition among the finalists in a national industry awards scheme.

The British Farming Awards aim to showcase "innovative, determined and extraordinary farmers across all sectors".

The winners will be announced at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham on October 21.

And there will be two Norfolk representatives among the finalists.

Organic farmers Duncan and Mary MacGregor, with farm manager Leigh Nobes at Mill Farm in Great Witchingham

Organic farmers Duncan and Mary MacGregor, with farm manager Leigh Nobes at Mill Farm in Great Witchingham, which has been shortlisted among the finalists for the British Farming Awards - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

One of them is the MacGregor Farming Partnership at Mill Farm, owned by Duncan and Mary MacGregor, which is shortlisted for the Sustainability Innovator of the Year award.

The 1,000-acre mixed organic operation in Great Witchingham has won plaudits for the way it integrates conservation measures into all aspects of its commercial operations, including 600 acres of arable production, a herd of pedigree Shorthorn cattle and a flock of pedigree poll Dorset sheep.

Farm manager Leigh Nobes said: "We feel honoured to be shortlisted.

"Hopefully it is a good reflection of the farm and what we are trying to achieve by integrating everything into our farming system on a whole-farm scale - from the livestock to getting the wildflower plots into the arable system."

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Meanwhile, Rebecca Mayhew and her husband Stuart at Old Hall Farm in Woodton, near Bungay, were nominated in the Diversification Innovator (large) category.

Rebecca and Stuart Mayhew at Old Hall Farm in Woodton

Rebecca and Stuart Mayhew at Old Hall Farm in Woodton, which has been shortlisted among the finalists for the British Farming Awards - Credit: Old Hall Farm

The farm runs a high-welfare “cow with calf” dairy, with animals grazing lush species-rich pastures to produce raw Jersey milk, milkshakes, cream and butter within a soil-friendly "regenerative agriculture" system.

The farm has also diversified its income by building a farm shop and cafe and introducing a free-range chicken enterprise, while a new vineyard of 10,500 vines is expected to produce its first grapes this year.

Mrs Mayhew said: "It is really nice for our team to have what we are doing recognised.

"Diversification is diversification, so people obviously expect you to be doing something different, but it is nice to have our methods of farming recognised more widely and becoming more mainstream.

"People always think Norfolk and Suffolk is the back end of nowhere, but actually we are very innovative over here and there is a lot of good enterprise going on."

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