Barleylands Farm Park in Billericay, Essex, is a regional finalist in two categories of the Countryside Alliance Awards, dubbed the ‘Rural Oscars’. The annual awards, now in their 15th year, celebrate small rural businesses who support the local economy, go the extra mile and are the unsung heroes of the community.
The awards have five categories and differ in that businesses are nominated by the public, with over 17,000 nominations received this year.
With its strong schools programme, Barleylands has been selected as a regional finalist for the Clarissa Dickson Wright Award. This was set up in memory of the celebrated cook and countryside campaigner and is awarded to a business for the biggest commitment to food and farming, campaigning and education.
Karen Watson, Head of Education at Barleylands, who welcomes nearly 20,000 school children a year, said:
“Teaching the next generation about food and farming is at the core of what we have been doing here at Barleylands for the last 35 years. We have continually developed a programme of engaging immersive days for school groups that we adapt to different age groups and subjects across the curriculum. We want to inspire the next generation about food, farming and healthy eating and to be finalists is a huge accolade for the whole team. We are really delighted, and particularly to be in such good company of other impressive finalists up and down the country.”
Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village is also a regional finalist in the Rural Enterprise Award which celebrates diverse and energetic businesses that have a positive impact on their local community.
The Baroness Mallalieu QC, President of the Countryside Alliance and a judge on the panel, said:
“Rural businesses are the lifeblood of this country and its communities so it is only right we acknowledge the heroes that make our countryside great. I’ve seen first-hand how the nominees for the Countryside Alliance Awards represent the brilliance of rural Britain and I am delighted to be part of celebrating their wonderful achievements.”
The judging panel includes Peter Gott of Sillfield Farm and founder of Borough Market; Masterchef judge and author, William Sitwell; Philip Johnston, Assistant Editor of the Daily Telegraph; Emma Penny of Farmers Guardian; Sally Merison, friend of Clarissa Dickson Wright; Baroness Mallalieu; and Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance.
The finalists, who will compete for regional and national titles, will be announced in May and the awards ceremony will be held at Parliament in June 2020.