Helping it Happen Awards finalists announced

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FIVE FARMS have been announced as finalists for the 2020 Helping It Happen Awards, which is now in its fourth year. The Helping It Happen Awards have become established in recognising the role of estates, farms and rural businesses who are helping rural Scotland thrive. This year also sees nominations for those who have enhanced the environment or supported their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, there are 12 awards in total, with seven award categories complemented by community champion awards across five regions. The winners will be announced via a video premiered on YouTube at noon on September 30.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, who organises the event, said: “More than ever, this year has typified what Helping It Happen is all about – individuals, rural businesses and organisations going the extra mile to make a positive contribution to society. This work benefits us all by sustaining rural employment, providing high quality housing or helping Scotland meet its climate change goals.

“Our farming entries are always really interesting case studies and this year’s five farms are no exception. Each business is very different but share a desire to explore new ways to produce the finest food and drink, help the environment and support their local communities. They also have a willingness to share what they have learned with others in the farming sector.

“Overall, the nominations across the categories have been as strong as ever this year and we are pleased that the Helping It Happen Awards are firmly established as a way of recognising how Scotland’s diverse rural businesses and organisations are making a vital contribution.”

The two finalists for this year’s Innovation in Farming Award, sponsored by Douglas Home and Co, are:

Peelham Farm, Foulden, Berwickshire, Scottish Borders

Peelham is a family run organic farming and food production enterprise based on 670 acres in the Scottish Borders. In its organic on-farm butchery, smoker and charcuterie facility it produces grass-fed organic beef, grass-fed organic veal, grass-fed organic lamb, grass-fed organic mutton and free-range organic pork alongside salamis, sausages, burgers, bacon and hams which is supplied direct to the consumer. No pesticides, herbicides or petro-chemical fertilisers are used and biodiversity on the farm is encouraged.

Seawater Solutions, South Ayrshire

Seawater Solutions is all about turning coastal farmland into wetland ecosystems. The company has designed a way to create ‘artificial’ saltmarsh on degraded farmland, where you can grow food using seawater and store carbon, promote wildlife, and support regenerative agriculture. Seawater Solutions provides a comprehensive farming system which includes sustainable irrigation equipment, expertise, on-site operational management, and routes to market.

The two farm finalists in the Enhancing our Environment Award category, sponsored by NatureScot, are:

Broadmeadows Farm, Yarrowford, Selkirk.

Broadmeadows Farm has diversified from a 1400acre hill and upland sheep farm into one which rents out 200 acres of inbye grazing to two neighbouring young farmers, has 350 acres of maturing woodlands forming a landscape developed in the early 19th century and extensive riparian plantations. There are 200 acres of hill tops, with plans to create a “montane landscape”, a new 650acre multi-purpose woodland, designed for the 21st century, combining commercial forestry, diverse conifers and native broadleaves. They also have 3 cottages on residential let and timber production. The enhancement of the environment is at the forefront of Broadmeadows activity.

Jim and Graeme Sinclair, Crookston Hill Farm, Galashiels, Scottish Borders.

Jim Sinclair and son Graeme are tenants of Lord John Borthwick at Crookston hill farm, 15km north east of Galashiels. The business comprises 2100 sheep and 100 suckler cows. With extreme weather events becoming more frequent, the farm tenants – with the landowner’s support – were keen to help slow the flow of flood water to towns downstream. Tweed Forum facilitated the work, which includes: 55ha of new riparian woodland planting, the creation of six wildlife ponds, riverbank protection and shading of headwater streams for fish. Over the last five years, with the assistance of Tweed Forum, the Sinclair family have hosted many farm visits. They have held farm walks for local farmers, to help demonstrate that this kind of work can be a win-win situation for the business, for the community and for the environment. Awareness raising events have also been held for the local community.

Broadmeadows Farm and Jim and Grame Sinclair will battle it out in this category against East Lothian Countryside Volunteers.

The final farm finalist in the South East Community Champion of the Year category, sponsored by GLM, is:

Border Eggs and Maclean Eggs, Hutton, Scottish Borders.

This family run farm is the home of both Border Eggs and MacLean Eggs. They produce and supply the finest quality organic free-range eggs to major supermarkets, local businesses and direct to the public through Frasers Farm Shop. During lockdown, to help the local community, Frasers Farm Shop was built over a weekend to allow individuals to come and buy their basic food shop at any time of the day or night to suit their needs direct from the farm road end. The use of three chilled and ambient vending machines allowed them to be open 24 hours a day and accessible to all. They were also able to employ a local resident on a full time basis to order supplies, top up the vending machines, ensure the shop is clean, presentable and kept covid compliant and to create and maintain an online presence through our websites and social media channels. They are working alongside other local farmers and food producers who suddenly lost their market place – restaurants, farmers markets, etc – overnight. In addition to their organic, free range eggs they sell beef, lamb, pork, milk, honey, jam, chutney, potatoes and tray bakes all produced within 10 miles of the farm.

Border Eggs and Maclean Eggs will battle it out against two other finalists in this category – Forth Resource Management and Roxburgh Estates.

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