Fun, Food & Farming!

County Durham farm wins title of best in North

A COUNTY Durham farm has scooped the Tye Trophy after being named the best in the North.

Mark and Jane Gray of Broom House, Witton Gilbert, won the County Durham regional round and then went on to take the overall title.

Judges described their 1,000-acre tenanted former opencast farm as “exceptional and immaculate”. The Grays converted to organic seven years ago and also run a farm shop to market their home-reared produce.

Charles Mills, chairman of the judging panel, said: “They have a well run organic farm which operates to the very highest standards. In truth it is immaculate. Their grassland management is impressive and the high standards also apply to their very successful farm shop.

“The conservation aspect is good, as is their stockmanship but in addition they are enthusiastic about their farming and keen to be ambassadors for the industry.

“Educating young people regarding the importance of farming is an integral part of their business. During the year they have around 100 school visits which is a major undertaking for any farm. They are very worthy winners.”

Conservation work at Broom House includes restoring hay meadows, sowing beetle strips, creating wildlife corridors, planting trees, restoring ponds and rebuilding stone walls. Most recently, 10km of hedges have been planted and 30 new bird nesting boxes put up around the farm. Mr Gray said: “As well as ongoing conservation work, we have 90 acres of hay meadows and 70 acres of permanent pasture and wetland and one of our aims is to encourage the curlews and lapwing to breed across the farm. We’re keen to encourage visitors to the farm to see what we do – and that includes more than 100 school visits a year. We are passionate about getting children on to a busy working farm so that they can learn about farming in the 21st Century, the relationship between the countryside and their food.”

The couple have created a Forest Adventure area for children and have created local employment at their coffee shop, which has a wind turbine, sedum roof, log burner heating and solar hot water.

The farm, which won the regional heat of the Tye Trophy competition in 2008, is stocked with 140 pure Aberdeen Angus suckler cows and a flock of 1,500 Lleyn ewes which are bred pure or crossed with the Suffolk ram. A further 500 ewe lambs are crossed with the Charollais ram.

A good proportion of the beef, lamb and mutton produced on site is processed in the on-farm butchery and sold through the farm shop.

The couple were presented with the trophy at Countryside Live, run by competition organiser the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.


30 October, 2012 at 19:00

Tags: tye trophy, winners, organic farmers, Yorkshire Agricultural Society

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