WOODLANDS FARM, at Kirton near Boston, has won the Producer of the Year in the Soil Association‘s 2004 Organic Food Awards.

The award was given in recognition of Woodlands Farm‘s care for the environment and the breadth of work farmer Andrew Dennis and his team undertake to promote local and organic production to the local community.

Woodlands Farm last year won the best organic box scheme award, and this year, in addition to winning the Producer of the Year award, it also came out tops in three of the fresh produce categories for its cauliflowers.

“This is a really wonderful award to win,” said Mr Dennis after the presentation on Wednesday (November 3).

“Our philosophy of looking after the farm, both now and for future generations and producing good quality affordable organic produce is simple and straightforward.

“We want to invest in local food and local people, and the growth of our box scheme and the different enterprises on the farm is proof that we‘re achieving this,” Mr Dennis said.

Woodlands Farm is a mixed enterprise with beef cattle, bronze turkeys and sheep spread over 1700 acres. The farm also produces a wide range of organic vegetables and salads for the award-winning box scheme that was set up in 2000.

Local and direct sales now account for 41% of Woodlands Farm‘s turnover, whereas initially the farm was 100% reliant on supermarket sales.

The judges‘ comments are testament to the hard work that Andrew and the Woodlands Farm staff put into the business since the decision to go organic in 1996:

“In what is one of the most intensively farmed areas of the country, Woodlands Farm shows that a sustainable organic approach can really work – protecting the environment, providing food for local people and making a real contribution to the local economy through jobs.”

NFU‘s regional director, Jack Ward, added his congratulations to those of the judges: “Local food businesses like Woodlands Farm are increasingly important to the local rural economy.

“The thriving and growing organic box scheme and Andrew‘s commitment to Woodlands Farm as a sustainable and profitable business are an excellent example of our professional and forward-thinking farming industry.”

The Organic Trophy for lifetime achievement went to Alan and Debra Schofield who have been involved in organic growing for over 25 years and are undeniably one of the pioneer couples of the modern organic movement in the UK.

The judges commented: “Alan and Debra have developed a unique and successful business that flies in the face of the way most horticulture has evolved over the past two decades.

“They are true pioneers whose ethics and principles are as strong as their technical achievements.”