The Yorkshire Post’s inaugural Farmer of the Year Award, in association with farm business consultants Andersons, culminated yesterday in a presentation at the Harrogate showground on the President’s Lawn.
Six finalists were selected for their individual efforts to reach out beyond their daily duties on the farm to bring people closer to the food production process, and it was Sheffield dairy farmer Eddie Andrew who was named Farmer of the Year for the success of his engagement with the public through his Our Cow Molly brand.
Mr Andrew’s farm is the only dairy farm in Sheffield that still bottles its own milk. Faced with production price pressures, to save his business he started engaging with the people of Sheffield by creating a light-hearted brand which emphasises his product’s local credentials.
He welcomes the public onto his farm to his ice cream parlour, engages with more than 10,000 Twitter followers and hosts school trips. He helped set up and run a monthly farmers’ market in his local village hall and on Open Farm Sunday, together with four other farmers, he welcomed 4,000 visitors onto his farm.
He has also pounded the city streets with the NFU to talk about the qualities of dairy products with the public.
As he could not attend the show to collect his trophy, made of burr oak by Pateley Bridge-based wood carver John Hayton, his parents Thelma and Graham collected it on his behalf.
Speaking later, Mr Andrew said: “Ninety-nine per cent of the public buy their milk from the supermarket and they’re missing out on how that product is created. Once we share that experience with them they realise all the hard work that is involved.”
Five other finalists were presented with rosettes: Rebecca Burniston of Ripon, Tamara Hall of Beverley, Gordon Hawcroft of Holme on Spalding Moor, Angela Kirkwood of Withernsea and Peter Richardson of Newby Wiske.