The Royal Agricultural Society of England has named farm conservationist Alastair Leake as the recipient of its 2023 National Agricultural Award.
The award recognises Dr Leake’s outstanding contribution to British agriculture through his work leading the Allerton Project – the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust demonstration farm which showcases how commercial farming and biodiversity can co-exist.
The award is given annually to an individual who has made a significant impact on the advancement of UK agriculture. Dr Leake has led the Allerton Project for 22 years, researching the effects of different farming methods on biodiversity.
Located on the Loddington Estate in Leicestershire, the Allerton Project has attracted thousands of visitors – including farmers, government ministers, Defra policy makers, researchers and students – who have learned from its innovative practices.
Award judges praised Dr Leake for his tireless efforts to discover and communicate how agricultural production systems can allow for high levels of food production and biodiversity to occur simultaneously.
RASE chief executive David Grint said “Alasiair has made an extraordinary contribution to British agriculture through his work leading the Allerton Project, which has done so much to pioneer and popularise ways of farming with nature.”
Dr Leake said he was “humbled, honoured and thrilled” to receive the award. He added: “I have been fortunate to have worked alongside some outstanding colleagues through my 30 years of involvement with agricultural and environmental trials.”
The gift of the Loddington Estate by the late Lord and Lady Allerton and their vision for the Allerton Project was inspiring. “Never before has it been so important for us to find ways to grow our food and protect nature and the environment simultaneously.”
Refinancing deal for Bridge Farm Group
Lincolnshire horticultural grower Bridge Farm Group has entered a new phase of growth after securing a multi-million-pound refinancing package.
Bridge Farm, based in Spalding in Lincolnshire, produces ornamental plants and cut flowers. It grows more than 70m plants and flowers annually in 24ha of low-carbon biomass-heated glasshouses – supplying supermarkets and DIY retailers.
Established in 1988, the business has a £30m annual turnover and 160 employees. A competitive debt raising process by FRP Corporate Finance to identify a partner to support the next phase of Bridge Farm’s growth plans.
The multi-million-pound refinancing package will support Bridge Farm’s ongoing expansion and enable it to continue producing its extensive range of high-quality plants and cut flowers while also penetrating the market for plant-derived extracts and molecules.
The deal was completed with support from advisers Shoosmiths, EY and Savills.
Bridge Farm managing director Louise Motala said: “This deal represents another key milestone for Bridge Farm as we continue to expand and build value in the business.”