Penkridge’s Lower Drayton Farm started the year on a high – being named New Tourism Business of the Year in the Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism & Good Food Awards for its PLAY@ farm attraction.
The 750-acre farm, which is run by two generations of the Bower family, is set to end the year on a similar note – having scooped no less than two accolades in the past week. On Tuesday 1st November – Back British Farming Day – 36-year-old Richard Bower was officially named Stafford constituency’s NFU Farming Hero having been nominated by MP Theo Clark, who said in her nomination:
“Richard has a passion for educating the public and has created many opportunities for them to come to the farm. He also uses traditional and modern methods to communicate and educate about modern farming. He has also taken environmental measures on the farm, which show a good example of how farming can work to tackle climate change.”
The farm’s environmental and conservation commitment was further recognised at the Staffordshire County Agricultural Society Dinner, where it was awarded the prestigious Whitegrove trophy as the best farm to demonstrate conservation practice alongside commercial agriculture in Staffordshire.
The award is particularly poignant, as it rewards what has been a lifetime of passion and commitment from Richard’s father, Ray Bower, which has seen the farm transition from being focused 100% on food production to being equally focused on producing food, renewable energy, enhancing the environment and providing public engagement opportunities on the farm. Farmer Ray said:
“What a year! There have been some significant challenges along the way – both in terms of the weather and the global financial situation, but continually adapting means we are more prepared to weather any storm. Naturally, I’m hugely proud that Richard has been nominated farming hero for Staffordshire for the very set of values that are core to the operation of our farm. Winning the Whitegrove trophy is also very special. The award has been going since 1983 and we are very proud to rank among the great Staffordshire farmers who have won it over the years.”
With the latest generation of Bowers already showing a keen interest in farming, the family is committed to continue working at the forefront of its field, as Richard explains:
“We are a family business through and through – having just welcomed our first baby with my wife Claire, and with my nephew Jack already very keen to join grandad whenever possible on the farm, the incentive is stronger than ever to ensure we keep investing in the future; adapting to mitigate against climate change and striving to meet the target NetZero in terms of carbon emissions by 2040.”
As part of their public engagement activities, the farm welcomes school visits for groups of all ages – with STEM subjects and the relationship between farming, the environment and conservation a specialism for KS3 and above. To find out more, head to www.playatthefarm.co.uk/learn