Jonathan GrayshonJonathan Grayshon © Yorkshire Water

A young farmer who has been chosen to manage a 900ha farm in North Yorkshire says his dream has come true.

Landowner Yorkshire Water had been searching for someone to manage Humberstone Bank Farm, near Blubberhouses, after the previous tenant retired.

Local sheep farmer Jonathan Grayshon, 28, from Dacre, Nidderdale, beat off competition from 22 other applicants to be awarded the opportunity.

See also: Sheep farmers wins £1m tenancy for £1

“Like for a lot of young farmers trying to get on the farming ladder, it is difficult to get hold of any land, and almost impossible within a ring fence or near where you live,” he said.

“Getting my own farm in Nidderdale will be like living the dream.”

Mr Grayshon was selected to take over the farm, set in stunning Nidderdale countryside, following the retirement of the farming family who had managed it for the past 80 years.

He will live in the farmhouse, manage 900ha land – which will be home to 400 ewes – and maintain a cottage, several barns and outhouses.

The farm house and outbuildings at Humberstone Bank Farm

The farmhouse and outbuildings at Humberstone Bank Farm © Yorkshire Water

‘Farm of the future’

Yorkshire Water began searching for a new tenant earlier this year who would be able to manage the land in accordance with its “Beyond Nature” vision to make it a leading farm for the future.

This vision required a new tenant – in addition to delivering traditional livestock farming practices – to have the skills and passion to protect wildlife biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage and grouse shooting.

A key element of will be protecting blanket bog by restoring areas of sphagnum moss, which absorbs and slows down rainwater run-off to act as a natural flood barrier.

Many species of birds that live on the land must also be protected. This includes upland birds of prey, as well as red grouse and smaller birds such as golden plover and redstarts.

Humberstone Bank Farm covers 900ha of stunning countryside in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

Humberstone Bank Farm covers 900ha of stunning countryside in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire © Yorkshire Water

Mr Grayshon is a sheep farmer and breeder who has experience managing a large agri-business enterprise.

Since 2013, he has managed his family’s own farming business in Dacre and previously specialised in beef and sheep production with the Scottish Agricultural College.

Best candidate

Lisa Harrowsmith, a lead surveyor at Yorkshire Water, said: “Humberstone is a traditional hill farm at heart that lies in an SSSI [site of special scientific interest] zone, producing top-quality stock that farmers are proud to produce. 

“However, as well as grazing, the Beyond Nature ethos is all about sustainable farming that protects water quality, wildlife biodiversity, peatland and carbon storage.

“We believe Jonathan is the best candidate to deliver this vision that will ensure the farm becomes a standard bearer for innovative, sustainable farming that sensitively manages the land it sits in.”