Catch up with the Farmers Guardian Farming Hero 2023

Back Catch up with the Farmers Guardian Farming Hero 2023

The winners of 2023’s Farmers Guardian Farming Hero award opened the doors to the farm more than 30 years ago in 1989, with millions of people now having passed through their gates.

Roger Nicholson and his sons Richard, David and Rob run the farm and attraction and have also featured in TV programmes including Springtime on the Farm, The Yorkshire Vet and flagship Channel 5 programme The Great Yorkshire Show. The farm in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, is home to a farm shop, adventure playground, a reptile house and hosts special events throughout the year, as well as a working farm.

Their commitment to educating consumers as to where their food comes from and the role British farmers play has helped bridge that gap between the public and agriculture. On winning the award, Roger says: “We were absolutely delighted.” He says it was great to be recognised, especially alongside the likes of Jeremy Clarkson.

David says they were especially pleased to have their friend Kelvin Fletcher there when they won the award, adding as a new entrant he really showed how farming was ‘good for the soul’. Since winning the award, the family say life on the farm has ‘no let up’. “There is always something else creeping up,” Roger says.

He says some of the highlights include selling a Dutch Spotted Sheep for 16,000gns. “We are busy lambing at the moment, which is keeping everybody strength. We have opened a new playground. Hopefully it will be really well attended by children.”

In the coming months, the family are looking to attend many of the major agricultural shows. Rob says: “We have some really good livestock. It gives us an opportunity to spread the message, celebrating everything which is great about farming.” With the farmers interacting with the general public every day, Rob says farming does have a ‘good reputation’ and there is a lot of positivity towards farming. He says: “We get a lot of people coming to us because they have nostalgia about farming. Maybe their relatives were farmers, or they used to play on a farm as children or in a village. “But you cannot live on good will alone. It has to be translated into better returns.”

Richard highlights school visits to the farm and how they strive to ensure they have a positive effect on the children, which helps to shape their views on British agriculture. Rob says while the family has obviously created a hugely successful diversification, he believes farmers should be able to make a living from the core farming business without necessary diversification. He says: “That is what most farmers want.