WINNER FOR DIVERSIFICATION INNOVATOR
OF THE YEAR – LARGE
Sponsored by: Firma Foreign Exchange
Adam and Lisa-Jane Fraser
Coldharbour Farm, Frasers, Kent
When faced with a crippling and fluctuating agricultural commodity market and the need to buy out other family members, Lisa and Adam decided they needed to diversify to secure the long-term viability of their farm for their children.
The diversification was inspired by Lisa’s passion for cooking, creating a state of the art commercial kitchen and dining facility after demolishing a redundant milking parlour. The diversification also included accommodation in redundant farm buildings.
Guests are invited to relax away from their busy lives, dine in style and enjoy the stunning location.
It has also allowed them to pursue their keen interest in environmental issues, reducing food miles by using local produce where possible and local staff.
The whole farm is now operating across an extensive grass-based system managed through grazing beef cattle, winter sheep and foraging. The move has boosted wildlife on the farm including buzzards, owls and wild orchids.
With the business off the beaten track, the online booking facility has been of paramount importance alongside use of social media and more traditional advertising methods.
Lisa has even turned what many might see as a negative into a positive, with mobile phone reception limited in the area, many guests have commented it enables them to find time to talk rather than gaze at a screen.
However, their most important tool has been word of mouth recommendations, with many valued repeat customers.
The project has not just had a positive effect on their farm, it has also provided employment to people in the local areas and supported other local producers such as a nearby fishmonger.
Over the next few years, Frasers is planning more development increasing their capacity for guests and opening up a glamping site. They are also striving for a Michelin Star accreditation for their fine dining.
On winning the award, Adam and Lisa said: This is a wonderful award to receive. It recognises 25 years of really, really hard work. We were a traditional working dairy farm but struggling to keep our heads above water. We took the bull by the horns and launched our diversification. The bank said it would never work and I am so proud to have proved them wrong.
The judges said about Adam and Lisa: The judges were impressed by their ingenuity and how the business had managed to thrive as a tourist destination despite being off the beaten track. It was also great to hear the effect on the local community, providing employment and supporting other local businesses.