CEVAS farmer and FACE member wins prestigious award!
Monday, 29 November 2010 11:29
Hertfordshire farm manager Jonathan Birchall has been named BBC Farmer of the Year. He was presented with the award at the BBC Good Food Show at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.
Jon, 50, is farm manager for Pilkington Farms, encompassing some 800ha (2000 acres) of the Kings Walden Estate, near Hitchin.
“Over the last four years we have changed our farming system from a mainly intensive arable system to a large scale extensive grazing system,” he said.
“It is immensely satisfying to see all this come to fruition and a great honour to receive an award for doing something which has given us so much pleasure.”
Judging took place during a farm visit in October. Judges included former agriculture minister Michael Jack, who is now president of the National Fruit Show; and musician and journalist Alex James.
Alex first came to public notice as the bass player in Blur. He is now well known for the cheese he produces on his Oxfordshire organic farm. He presents Radio 4's On Your Farm, and writes for newspapers and magazines on farming and the countryside.
The farm visit was recorded for an edition of On Your Farm broadcast on 17 October.
Alex James said the farmer category had been fiercely debated as all three finalists were excellent. But the one thing that made Jon a worthy winner was his outreach to the wider community – including local residents, schools and other farmers.
This year Jon also completed a Masters degree in Rural Environment and Land Management at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire. He was also a runner up in the Farmers Weekly Awards for Countryside Farmer of the Year.
The Food and Farming Awards ceremony will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 9am on Friday 26 November. It will be repeated at 7am on Christmas Day.