Last week we celebrated a very special evening at the Kent Business Awards 2023. This year, the Kent County Agricultural Society presented three very deserving awards to people within the agricultural sector.

Our first award went to George and Will Edmonds from Edmonds Farm Partnership for Young Farmer/ Agricultural Student of the Year. George and Will have recently set up their own farming business together, having acquired two Farm Business Tenancies in the summer of 2023 specialising in sheep and arable.  George’s passions are machinery and cattle, whilst Will is an experienced shepherd, having gained experience at the Lovejoy Farm Partnership, in their extensive, low-input sheep system. 

Both attended Hadlow College, gaining Extended Diploma’s in Agriculture.  After college, both gained lots of experience across Kent and Oxfordshire in as many types of farming as they could, from dairy to arable to sheep. George and Will were keen members of Ashford Young Farmers’ Club, leading their club as chairman, with Will going on to chair the Kent Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, helping organise successful competitions and social events for hundreds of other young farmers across the county. George established his own herd of Devon cattle at his parent’s farm, and became a farm contract tractor driver, carting forage, baling, and doing general tractor work. Will is an expert shepherd and shears thousands of sheep for his customers every year. 

Our second award of the evening, Innovation in Agriculture, was awarded to Oli Pascall from Clock House Farm. His innovation is demonstrated throughout the farm, starting at the seedling stage and carrying through the supply chain to the supermarket. Oli has adapted new ways of growing fruit by installing a renewable power plant. Clock House Farm’s river source heat pump allows Oli and his team to heat their polyhouses with renewable energy and keep growing soft fruit into December. The largest of its kind in Europe, and maybe even the world, to be used in fruit growing, the system extracts heat from the nearby River Medway and sends it up to a plant room where six heat pumps increase the temperature of a separate water system to 45 degrees and pump it up to the farm’s polyhouses. The river water is sent straight back into the river, four degrees colder.

Our final award for the evening went to Michael Bax for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Michael, founder of BTF, was nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award due to his dedication to his career, still playing an active role in the business, which built itself on giving down-to-earth, practical, and professional advice. He is a fountain of knowledge and will continue to impart his wide range of knowledge with over 30 years of experience into the younger generation coming through the firm. The next year for Mike will see him enjoying family life more and stepping slightly backwards so that he can enjoy his passions for hobbies such as fishing.

Michael also has his own farm where biodiversity and sustainability are at the forefront of his practices, focusing on conservation farming. This has led to sightings of an abundance of wildlife such as Great Crested Newts, Water Voles, and broods of Barn Owls as well as extensive meadows of natural wildflowers and plants.

We would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners of the Kent County Agricultural Awards! Collectively, they demonstrate the hard work, dedication and determination of Kent’s farming community and we are delighted to be able to recognise their accomplishments with the support of the Kent Business Awards.