A FARM which lets visitors take alpacas for a walk and another which uses a converted grain silo as part of a stunning wedding venue are among the finalists for a new diversification award.

In partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland, and supported by SAC Consulting, the inaugural AgriScot Diversified Farm of the Year Award celebrates the achievements of Scottish farming and crofting businesses which have diversified and added value to their primary agricultural activities.

Read more: AgriScot's new award for Diversification Farm of the Year

After receiving high-quality entries from all over the country, the three finalists are from Angus, Orkney and West Lothian, with the winner to be announced at AgriScot in February.

The finalists are:

  • Bain Farm, Orkney, a dairy farm run by Lara Hourie and her family. The business, which operates under the brand The Orkney Dairy, has added value to their milk by producing natural yoghurt, flavoured yoghurts, milk, and flavoured milkshakes. Through the support of LEADER funding and Orkney Islands Council in 2017, Lara and her family installed a purpose-built facility in a converted farm workshop. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength.
  • Cairns Farm, West Lothian, where Caroline and Graham Hamilton are fourth-generation hill sheep farmers. With a family succession on the horizon and a desire to create a viable business future for the next generation, they made a significant investment in a wedding venue and self-catering offer on the farm. Incorporating original farming features – including a converted grain silo as a grand entrance – into the design of their venue, they have created something unique and of its place which connects their guests to their land and farming heritage.
  • Newton Farm, Angus, where Louise and Graeme Nicoll run a mixed tenanted family farm of 550 acres. Out of a series of challenges in 2016 was born the farm tour concept of bringing visitors on to their farm. There is a range of tour activities available, including the chance to walk alpacas and even feed a Highland Cow. They also have a key focus on engaging visitors with whatever is happening that day on the farm.

Sascha Grierson from SAC Consulting said: “Diversification and agritourism are becoming ever more important in Scottish agriculture and it’s terrific to see such great innovation all over the country. The three finalists of this award are excellent ambassadors of the sector and should all be proud of their achievements so far.”

Director of agriculture at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Roddy McLean, commented: “We were delighted with the number of entries and their quality. It was inspiring to see how resources on the farm, alongside interests or skills within each family, have been harnessed to deliver a diverse range of enterprises which are running alongside or as an integral part to the core farm business.

“This made the assessing very challenging but really fascinating. There can only be one overall winner, but I think that each of the entries is a winner in what it is delivering for that individual business and family. I’d like to thank everyone who entered and wish them and their business continued success for the future.”

One of the judges, Ian Brydson, an AgriScot Board member concluded: “The standard of applicants has been very high and made judging the award a real challenge. Each finalist has diversified to an extremely high standard and been totally committed to what they are trying to achieve. It has been inspiring to meet people prepared to break with what they have always done and try adding something new in order to take their farming operations to the next level.”

The winner will be announced at AgriScot on February 9, 2022.