Dr Johnny Wake, Managing Partner of Courteenhall Farms, has won the prestigious Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners.
He was presented with the award today at the Royal Windsor Estate.
The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) recognised six members of the agricultural community for their outstanding contributions to farming for food, people, the environment and profit at the annual RASE Awards Day.
This year, the Bledisloe Gold Medal, which is supported by Evelyn Partners, was awarded to Dr Wake in recognition of his management of Courteenhall.
Since taking over in 2013, Dr Wake has evolved the estate from being a business based around arable farming and residential property to one on a much more diverse and sustainable footing.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, David Grint, CEO at RASE, said: “Bringing people together to celebrate the leaders in the industry and to be inspired by what can be achieved is what these awards are about.
“Each winner has contributed to the agricultural industry by pushing the boundaries of what is possible to farm in a way that is sustainable, viable and profitable, which enables others to prioritise the future while farming today.
“The Bledisloe Gold Medal is awarded to a landowner who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the successful land management and development of an agricultural estate in England.
“Dr Wake puts community, sustainability and legacy at the heart of every decision made, demonstrating an exceptional model of best practice, and one which sets an example for estates across the whole of England.
“We are most grateful to the award supporters and also The Crown Estate’s Windsor team for hosting such an inspiring day to celebrate the best achievements in agriculture.”
Dr Johnny Wake, whose family has been in South Northamptonshire since the 13th century and has been farming at Courteenhall for over 350 years, said: “It is a real honour to be awarded the Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners and it’s a testimony to the hard work of the whole team at Courteenhall.
“We’re a family-run business committed to farming as sustainably as possible, working with and protecting the environment, and pushing the boundaries so we can be at the vanguard of positive change.
“We work hard to build a wide variety of diverse and sustainable practices across our farming activities, from investing in cutting-edge technology, increasing biodiversity and our dedication to soil health to maximising our use of natural fertilisers and re-introducing traditional Hereford cattle and Rare Breed sheep to our land.
“We have a long and proud legacy to preserve, and we’re passionate about supporting the local community and protecting the environment for future generations.”
RASE is an independent charity dedicated to the application of science and technology to optimise agriculture and food resources to ensure a secure global future. It was granted its Royal Charter in 1840 by Queen Victoria.
The judges looked at a number of our projects including:
· Installing a variety of renewable energy technologies including multiple Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps, rooftop solar arrays, solar thermal arrays and a high-tech energy monitoring portal.
· Membership of the Government’s Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
· Planting 3.5km of new hedges, laying 14km of existing hedges and planting 1,500 trees to help sequester carbon and support and preserve wildlife.
· Installing a new rainwater harvest system.
· Part of two pioneering pilot schemes to accurately measure and improve soil carbon.
· Implementing stewardship options across 56% of the Estate’s land to promote habitat, food sources for red-listed species, carbon capture, improve water and soil quality and prevent flooding.
· Reintroducing a herd of Traditional Hereford cattle to the parkland at Courteenhall who graze naturally all year round and support the soils, before being sold to The Ethical Butcher.
· Building a broiler chicken farm which is heated with Ground Source Heat Pumps.
· Founding the Tove Valley Cluster Farm which delivers cooperative benefits for nature on a landscape scale.
· Putting community at the heart of the vision for Courteenhall with a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) focus and programme of activity.
· Outside of Courteenhall, Dr Wake sits on the CLA’s national Policy Committee, is a Deputy Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, on the committee of Wildlife Farms and Estates England, Patron of HomeStart Daventry and South Northants and a Governor of St Andrew’s Hospital.