GOLD WINNER DIVERSIFICATION INNOVATOR
OF THE YEAR – SMALL TO MEDIUM
Barbara, Sam & Jo Smith
Slapton Manor Farm, Slapton Manor, Northamptonshire
A FAMILY run business with a real love for agriculture, Slapton Manor Farm is run Barbara Smith and her two daughters, Sam and Jo.
With multiple revenue streams on-site, including a wedding venue, bed and breakfast accommodation, vehicle storage and sheep enterprise, the Smiths are looking to use their location to their advantage.
Sam says: “We have got to look forward and keep evolving the business. Farming is very much in our hearts and the success of the diversification is all put back in to moving the farm forward.”
Originally a dairy unit, the decision was taken in 2010 to get rid of the cows and look for other ways to make money from the farm.
Initially converting a redundant farm building in to bed and breakfast accommodation back in 2001, the business now has 14 rooms and an 86 per cent occupancy rate, with some of the rooms filled regularly during the week by professionals working at nearby Silverstone race track and business park.
As this developed, the family got the confidence in 2016 to look at utilising some of the farm buildings for outside events. Weddings and civil ceremonies can now be held in the old threshing barn or in marquees erected on site, with the family aiming to host one wedding a week during the season. They are almost fully booked for 2020 already.
With other buildings being converted for caravan and motorhome storage, there are many strings to their bow. But their focus remains the farm, and their 700 ewe flock, led by Jo, is made up of pedigree Texels, Abermax and commercial lambs.
Sam, who oversees much of the events, adds: “The different sides of our business [diversification and farming] would not work without the other. This our home, our business and our passion.”
The judges said about Barbara, Sam and Jo: this is a family that is working together to run multiple and diverse enterprises and securing the long term future of the farm. Their passion and enthusiasm shone through at all stages as did their willingness to adapt different business models.
On winning, Barbara, Sam and Jo said: “It really is a dream to have won an award we were immensely proud and honoured to be put forward for. We have been working hard to get to the point we are at now but we could not have done it without the huge supportive team we have behind us. We will always be farmers first and foremost, and we are immensely proud that our families fourth generation is now coming to the fore.”