Tyne Tees Farm is Best in the North - TYE TROPHY WINNER ANNOUNCED
A farming couple from County Durham are the winners of the prestigious Tye Trophy with the judges describing their enterprise as “exceptional and immaculate”. The competition is run by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and is aimed at rewarding best farming practice coupled with an awareness of the environment and the need to be ambassadors for the industry.
Mark and Jane Gray took the championship after being named winners of the Co. Durham regional round and received the award at a ceremony at Countryside Live this weekend (20 and 21 October). Mr and Mrs Gray received their trophy and prize money from Raymond Twiddle, a former President of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.
The announcement comes following the selection of the five regional winners – with judges saying the Grays' farming was exceptional. Charles Mills, chair 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,” he added.
See further details re the Grays’ farming enterprise below.
North Yorkshire Area Winner: - Mr Stuart and Mr Cliff Coggrave, Tockwith, York
East Yorkshire Area Winner – Gordon Hawcroft, Holme on Spalding Moore, York
Northumberland Winner – Simon Henderson, Milfield, Wooler
County Durham Winner - Mark and Jane Gray, Broom House, Witton Gilbert, Durham
West & South Yorkshire Winner – WB & S Shaw (William), Hooton Roberts, Doncaster
24 October 2012
Judy Thompson, PR Manager on 01423 546215 or email
The Grays' Prize Winning Farm
The Grays' 1,000-acre tenanted former opencast farm - Broom House, Witton Gilbert,- lies six miles from the city of Durham and has been organic for seven years. This coincided with the start of a farm shop to market home-reared produce.
The farm rises from the flood plain in the Browney Valley, a tributary of the River Wear, to 750ft above sea level and all its acreage is in Organic Higher Level Stewardship with the aim of conserving the landscape and improving conditions for wildlife on the farm.
Area winners of the Tye Trophy in 2008, examples of the Grays’ conservation work have included 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: “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.”
An area of woodland is also now used as a Forest Adventure, re-connecting children with these habitats. An environmentally friendly Coffee Shop with wind turbine, sedum roof, log burner heating and solar hot water complements these enterprises and creates further rural employment in the area.
“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,” added Mr Gray.
The Grays have chosen traditional breeds for their eating qualities and have a herd of 140 pure Aberdeen Angus suckler cows that produce beef for the farm shop which is processed in the on-farm butchery, averaging one and a half carcases a week. The remainder of the finished cattle are sold to Dovecote Park.
There is a flock of 1,500 Lleyn ewes which are bred pure or crossed with the Suffolk and a further 500 ewe lambs are crossed with the Charollais ram, with some of the lamb as well as mutton being sold through the farm shop.
The aim is to breed all replacements on the farm which are reared on clover-rich pastures and spring oats grown on 50 acres for the cattle ration and stubble turnips for the finishing lambs. A herd of 20 rare breed Saddleback sows and 200 laying hens also supply the farm shop with pork products and eggs.
YORKSHIRE AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY:
The Yorkshire Agricultural Society was formed in 1837 and is a charity dedicated to supporting the farming industry and rural life. The value of the support it provides to regional farming and countryside initiatives has risen year on year to almost £1m. It is based at the Regional Agricultural Centre, Harrogate; the RAC includes Fodder, the Society’s regional food shop and café which opened in June 2009. Both the RAC and Fodder has won a number of awards, including in 2010, being named as the Observer Monthly Best Independent Local Retailer, and most recently it has been chosen as a finalist in the Taste of England category of the 2012 Visit England Awards for Excellence.
The Society is the organiser of England’s premier agricultural show, the Great Yorkshire Show and its sister event, Countryside Live. Dates for Countryside Live 2013 are Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October. The 2013 Great Yorkshire Show dates are Tuesday 9 – Thursday 11 July which will be the 155th show.