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Enterprising Farm Business Awards

Two thriving businesses based on farms in Mid Cornwall scooped top accolades at the Rural Progress Cornwall Farm Diversification Awards 2004 held at the CUC Building, Duchy College last night (9 December 2004).

NFU director Anthony Gibson presented £1,000 worth of prizes to two category winners - Cornish Orchards from Westnorth Manor Farm, Duloe and Tredethick Farm Cottages at Lostwithiel - from ten short-listed finalists.

Cornish Orchard's proprietor Andy Atkinson picked up the winning prize for a diversification project trading less than five years. His business was developed from planting orchards on the farm in 1999; a cider and apple juice processing business has grown quickly supplying retail outlets, restaurants and hotels throughout Cornwall.

Andy's time is now devoted primarily to the Cornish Orchards part of the business. The farm's dairy herd was dispersed in 2002 and has been replaced with sheep and a suckler herd. Buildings have been converted to production, storage office space and an onsite shop that is extremely busy during the tourism season and is a showcase for trade customers throughout the year.

Jeremy Ward, director of business consultancy WIN Business Services, who managed the competition on behalf of Rural Progress commented: "The judges were impressed by the tremendous progress Cornish Orchards had made in a relatively short trading time and the fact that Andy is clearly building up a highly capable team of staff around him to support the next stage of business activities."

On winning the award Andy Atkinson said: "Our staff's enthusiasm, involvement and ideas are integral to the success of Cornish Orchards. We all take great pleasure in showing that high quality products can be sourced from a small producer and are delighted when customers are pleased with what we deliver. When I saw the range of the activities of the other finalists, I felt privileged to be among them. Winning this award will bring pleasure to everyone involved with our business."

Tredethick Farm Cottages owned and managed by two generations of the Reed family won the award for farm diversification business over five years old. Established for over ten years the business consists of 9 letting cottages and extensive leisure facilities. The judges were particularly impressed with the interaction of visitors with farming activities as part of their holiday experience and their effective marketing to a very defined target audience of families with pre-school children.

Set feed times for animals, farm pets, children's pony rides and egg collecting are all part of the activities visitors are welcomed to participate in as part of their farm stay experience.

The judges were most impressed with the business' clear development strategy and the way they are offering a 'holiday experience' rather than just accommodation.

The Rural Progress Cornwall Farm Diversification Awards 2004 were launched back in May and were open to any farm diversification scheme operating in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly. Rural Progress, is an industry led partnership funded by Defra and the EAGGF to promote skills for the development of new ideas in farming and land based businesses. Rural Progress Scheme Manager Paul Charlton commented: "We have been delighted with the response the awards have generated, it has highlighted how many creative and thriving enterprises there are operating off farms across Cornwall. The Rural Progress project is about the development of new ideas and income in agriculture and other land-based businesses and farm diversification is very important in achieving that."

Guest speaker Henry Graham, head of rural business at Clydesdale Bank who co-sponsored the award said: "In common with the rest of UK agriculture, Cornwall's farming businesses have been required to work through some tough and challenging issues in recent years. What these award winners prove, however, is that the foundations of the Cornwall's rural community is still sound and secure. They also show that there are always new opportunities to be explored and that bottom line success is still possible."

Speaking at the event NFU director Anthony Gibson said: "Diversification is not the answer to farming's problems - but it can be a solution to many farmers' problems. Tonight's finalists have demonstrated remarkable enterprise and innovation and in the future we will need to ensure that farmers apply the same sort of approach to their core farming activities."

For further information please contact press officer Carolyn Daw on 01822 833488 or Paul Charlton at Rural Progress on 01579 372112.


Editor's notes:

Other finalists included:

Dupath Meat Direct, Dupath Wells, Callington
Peter and Jenny Coombe and their son Adrian farm 330 acres near Callington. Originally they started selling potatoes from a road side stall in a field gateway. They then started to sell meat direct and they became aware of a need for other farmers to learn about cutting and processing meat. They have converted the ground floor of a barn into a cutting room, cold store and facilities in order to hold training courses for farmers. The upper room has been converted into a commercial kitchen and meeting / banquet room for up to 40 people.

Travelling Minstrels Music Centre, Canworthy Water, Launceston
The Jones family from Canworthy Water are steeped in music and the teaching of music. Following the foot and mouth which decimated their dairy herd the family set up a musical holiday centre by converting an old shippen into a musical concert hall, individual teaching rooms and catering facilities.

Raymond and Veronica Jones are both experienced music teachers and performers in the area. Both studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Their daughter Penny Barclay and her husband Andrew are similarly accomplished musicians and teachers.

Travelling Minstrels organise week long activities for choral singers, string and piano players, in addition to exam preparation courses.

Fentrigan Manor Farm Cottages, Warbstow, Launceston
Richard and Gill Grigg run 6 self catering cottages on their 220 acre mixed farm.

The latest cottages were converted in 2004, in addition to the installation of an all weather tennis court.

The farm has a farm trail and coarse fishing lake. Richard spends a great deal of time with farm visitors introducing them to farming activities. The customer feedback provided indicates the value that visitors attach to this aspect of their holiday.

Future plans for the business include the conversion of two further cottages and the introduction of facilities, including a swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi. Consideration is currently being given to developing treatment rooms for Gill's growing reflexology practice both for local clients and to extend out of season tourism activity.

Little Callestock Farm Cottages, Zelah
Nick and Liz Down came to Callestock Farm in 1995 to establish a dairy farm. With two existing let properties they converted the courtyard barns in October 1998, for letting specifically to couples.

The farm is 140 acres and is farmed organically. It is stocked with 60 Jersey cows and their followers. Visitors are encouraged to participate in farm activities as far as is permissible.

Beacon Cottage Farm and Equipack Haylage, St Agnes
Owned and managed by John and Jane Sawle, together with their son Oliver. Jane manages and runs the holiday enterprises and Oliver manages the farm and is developing a haylage business.

There is a well established touring caravan and camping park carefully laid out in small paddocks, some of which have stunning views over the coast. In addition, customers are offered storage for their caravans over winter. In 2000 and 2003 two cottages were built for self-catering accommodation, one a barn conversion and one a new build.

Bre-Pen B & B and Farm Shop, Newquay
Rod and Jill Brake came to Bre-Pen Farm in 1996. The farm is 172 acres, stocked with 300 ewes and 60 acres of spring barley, hay and straw is used for the livery yard. In the spring of 1997 they converted the loft into two en-suite rooms and added a family suite downstairs and opened for B & B.

Early in 1999, the Brakes converted some redundant buildings into 5 stables, constructed a sand school and cross-country course for DIY livery and a riding club.

Then In 2002 they converted a redundant building into a farm shop. This has doubled its turnover in the first year.

As the business has grown rapidly, Jill found herself doing a lot of home baking for the farm shop in her own kitchen. So in the spring of 2004 a commercial bakery/kitchen was built into the farm shop. This has enabled Jill to extend her home baked product range which is a highlight of the shop., Tregony, Truro
Mark Lytham established in 2001. The business provides countryside based and environmentally friendly leisure activities that can be enjoyed by virtually any age group and ability, including the disabled. The business started with laser clay pigeon shooting for both the tourist season and off peak periods. It has now extended to include fly fishing, falconry, archery, carriage driving, laser combat, simulated climbing, survival skills, leadership courses and themed indoor events.

The leisure activities take place either at Woodland Valley Farm near Wadebridge or at countryside venues around Cornwall.

Barwick Farm Dairy Products, Tregony, Truro
Nick and Barbara Michell make butter. This started out as a very small cottage industry business until three years ago when they built a dairy processing unit that has been continually added to with equipment. They now produce organic bottled milk, butter and cream from their Jersey cow herd.

The products are sold through farm shops, high street shops and restaurants from Penzance to Bude. In addition, they sell through farmers markets.

For further information please contact Jeremy Ward on 01288 341300.

Cornish Guardian
SW Farmer
Cornish Times
Farmers Weekly
NFU Farmer & Grower (SW)
Cornish & Devon Post
The West Briton
Countryside Today

Western Morning News' Peter Hall attended.


Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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