Sussex farmer Annie Brown is the winner of the prestigious Silver Lapwing Award for 2015
The award, which recognises farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside in which they farm, is run by the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) Association and was this year sponsored for the seventh year running by Waitrose.
It was awarded to Ms Brown in recognition of her outstanding efforts in promoting good habitat management at Lower Paythorne and Perching Manor Farms, Fulking in the South Downs National Park.
She is the first woman to receive the award in its 38-year history and was chosen as winner from a national shortlist of five farms, each selected for demonstrating outstanding commitment to good environmental practices, alongside the production of food.
Ms Brown was presented with the award by Sir Jim Paice and Heather Jenkins, Waitrose director of buying and agriculture strategy, at a ceremony hosted by farmer and 2014 Silver Lapwing winner Ashley Cooper at his farm in Gestingthorpe, Essex.
Speaking at the event, Ms Brown said: “It is a privilege to have won this award. We’ve all put a huge amount of effort into creating a commercial farm, which also makes space for nature and we value the help and advice we have had from organisations such as FWAG along the way. What we’ve got now is a farm business that will be sustainable for generations to come - and that feels good.”
Finding a rotation that worked on the farms’ downland and low land had been one of the biggest challenges, she added.
Ms Brown also paid tribute to her farm manager David Ellin, describing him as “The most committed farm manager we could have found”.
Runners-up in this year’s competition were Welsh farmers Geraint and Rachel Davies, who run a 486 hectare (1200 acre) organic beef and sheep unit at Fedw Arain Uchaf, Gwynedd, Snowdonia.
Two other arable businesses were among the five finalists: John and Cathy Charles-Jones of Woodborough Park Farm, near Nottingham and Robert Smith of Russell Smith Farms, Duxford, Cambridgeshire.