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Show giving prize for farm enterprise

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: February 20, 2014

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FARM enterprises from North Devon are among the candidates for a new prize to be awarded at Devon County Show this year.

The likes of Tarka Springs bottled spring water at Umberleigh and Thorne Farm, Holsworthy, with its dairy farming, cottages and crèche, have already been highly placed in the class for diversification and progressive farming at previous shows.

This year will mark the county show's 25th anniversary at Wespoint.

And the show committee wants to test how good its past decisions were by looking again at winners and runners-up for the new award.

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"There's all the difference in the world between a business idea which looks good and makes a big splash, and one that stands the test of time by making a lasting contribution to farm income and the rural economy," said Mark Neason, the chairman of judges.

"We thought it would be fascinating to see how the businesses we've highlighted over the last 10 years or so have fared.

"Did we back winners, or were they nine-day wonders? And which has made the greatest progress since winning the award?"

"The award is given by the Devon County Agricultural Association not just to recognise but also to encourage and assist the development of new and imaginative ideas for farm-based businesses.

"So we will get a very good idea of whether the whole concept has helped to make a lasting difference for the better."

The businesses invited to take part cover the full range of farm diversification, from cider-making, through livestock marketing to agricultural contracting.

Farm tourism is in the mix, as are farm shops, poultry processing, conservation projects, bird seed and even a micro hydro-energy project.

The John Neason award is given in memory of a former land agent for the Devon County Agricultural Association.

It carries a first prize of £750, with £250 for the runner-up.

The closing date for entries is Monday, March 17.

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