Fine Farm Produce Awards 2019

Neil Heseltine, a farmer at Hilltop Farm in Malham in the Yorkshire Dales, took away the Farming with Nature award

The winners of the Fine Farm Produce Awards have been announced at BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

The event, now in its 14th year, celebrates exceptional produce from 1,500 tenant farmers and estates, who between them look after 500,000 acres of farmland in our care. 

'Our Fine Farm Produce Awards have attracted a fantastic range of products this year,' said Rob Macklin, the National Trust’s Head of Soils and Farming. 

'From beef and hogget to apple juice and organic vegetables, this year’s award-winners show that sustainably produced food and drink is not only better for nature, it tastes better too. 

'We’ve once again made the special "Farming with Nature" award to recognise a producer who has gone to significant lengths to improve wildlife habitats on their land.'

Overall Farming with Nature winner: Neil Heseltine

Neil Heseltine, a fourth-generation farmer at Hilltop Farm in Malham, in the Yorkshire Dales won the prestigious Farming with Nature award. 

Neil and his partner Leigh embrace sustainable ways of farming to enhance and protect their landscape, which encompasses two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and actively promote nature-friendly practices within the wider farming community.

Belted Galloway cattle help to keep down the scrub, allowing native plants to thrive, including moor grass and wild thyme, and the restoration of a traditional hay meadow has further increased biodiversity on the land.

Neil said, 'Looking after the environment is central to what we do at Hilltop. Several years ago we reduced the number of sheep on the farm and introduced conservation grazing cattle to increase biodiversity - with really positive results. New species of plant have emerged in the fields and our hay meadows are full of invertebrates, butterflies, bees, and even a family of barn owls.  

'It’s an honour to be recognised in the Fine Farm Produce Awards. It’s so important that we celebrate healthy, sustainable, nutritious produce and champion farming practices that work hand in hand with nature.'

" New species of plant have emerged in the fields and our hay meadows are full of invertebrates, butterflies, bees, and even a family of barn owls. "
- Neil Heseltine, farmer, Hilltop Farm

Overall Food Award winner: Beningbrough Farm

Winner of the Overall Food Award was Beningbrough Farm, near York, for its Aberdeen Angus beef, a breed that has long been regarded as one of the best in the world.

Sold through their farm shop and at the local market, this meat has a sweet aroma and rich creamy flavour which impressed the food judges and received the highest food score overall.

Farmer Alistair Jackson puts the quality of his beef down to the fact that the cattle are born and bred on the farm: 'Much of our land is alongside the River Ouse flood plain where silt deposits create a very mineral-rich soil, which is excellent for grazing. 

'We also butcher our beef locally and then hang it for 21 days to enhance the flavour, before it goes on sale in our shop. We now have a herd of 300 cattle on 340 acres, all farmed to RSPCA assured welfare standards – something we are very proud of and often interests our customers.'
 

" As a charity we are committed to using ingredients in our cafés that are grown, reared and produced in a way that helps care for nature. Because of this many of our recipes actually use ingredients from our tenant farmers. "
- Matt Drew, Head of Food and Beverage

Overall Drinks Award winner: Barrington Court

Barrington Court, a Tudor estate near Exeter, took the top prize for its traditional craft cider made with apples from wildlife-rich orchards that date back to the 19th century. 

Its medium dry cider fought off strong competition from other cider and apple juice producers, gaining the highest overall score. Made using a 200-year old cider press, the drink is amber coloured and slightly cloudy in appearance, with fine bubbles. It scored well for its honeycomb scent and characterful smoky caramel taste, which left an aftertaste of butterscotch.

Barrington Court’s ten acres of orchards are home to 140 types of apple, including ancient heritage varieties and fruit trees planted by Ian Lyle, whose family firm became Tate & Lyle, in the 1940s. Tom Putt, Beauty of Bath and Kingsdon Black are just three of the unusually-named varieties grown. 

The successful apple and cider project is overseen by ‘pommelier’ Rachel Brewer and created with the help of passionate locals, staff and volunteers. 

Mark Musgrove, the lead ranger for south Somerset, said: 'Producing an award-winning cider takes a whole team of people – from our rangers who manage the traditional orchards and gardeners who tend the trees in formal areas, to our staff who organise events for the public and sell the products, and our brilliant volunteers who help plant, harvest and press the apples.'

Full list of 2019 winners

London and South East

  • F. Conisbee & Son, Surrey – Steak and Shere Drop Ale Pie, Rolled Shoulder of Lamb, Rolled Turkey Breast

East of England

  • Hatfield Forest, Essex – Venison Tender Loin Steaks, Venison Haunch Steaks 

Midlands

  • Warren Farm, Herefordshire – Herefordshire Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, Herefordshire Damson Vinegar (SPECIAL MENTION: BEST NEW PRODUCT)​
  • Belton House, Lincolnshire – Venison
  • Calke Abbey, Derbyshire – Portland Hogget
  • Standley’s Barn Butchery, Derby – Longhorn Beef Rump Steak

North

  • Beningbrough Home Farm, York - Aberdeen Angus (OVERALL FOOD WINNER)
  • Hill Top Farm, Malham – Belted Galloway Beef Rump Steak, Beltie Bresola (OVERALL FARMING WITH NATURE WINNER)
  • Dunham Massey Apple Juice and Cider – Organic Apple Juice, Organic Dunham Vinegar

South West

  • South Somerset Apple Juice and Cider Project at Barrington Court, Somerset – Barrington Court Cider (OVERALL DRINKS WINNER)
  • Burrow Farm, Exeter – Red Ruby Devon Beef Rump Steak
  • Clyston Mill, Exeter – Wholemeal Stoneground Flour
  • Coleshill Organics, Swindon – Small Organic Veg Box
  • Conygree Farm, Cheltenham – Cotswold Hogget Shoulder, Cotswold Mutton Leg
  • Handmade Exmoor, Minehead – Exmoor Heritage Wool, Exmoor Tweed
  • Killerton Estate, Devon – Sparkling Cider, Apple Juice, Still Medium Dry Cider
  • Martinsfield Farm Enterprise LLP, Exeter – Lamb Half Leg Joint
  • The Free Range Dairy, Carvannel Farm, Cornwall – Clotted Cream, Natural Yoghurt, Milk

Wales

  • Snowdonia Shepherdess Lamb, Nant Gwynant – Half Box Lamb, Deluxe Lamb Burger