The 2023 Northern Farmer Awards will take place next week, with exceptional finalists chosen across ten categories.

The winners will be announced at a spectacular awards ceremony at Pavilions of Harrogate, the Great Yorkshire Showground, on Thursday, February 23, and ahead of that sparkling event, we are publishing mini-profiles of all our finalists.

Also to be revealed on the night will be the overall 2023 Northern Farmer of the Year, chosen by the panel of judges from the winners of the ten categories.

Finalists for Family Run Farm of the Year, sponsored by Yorkshire Agricultural Society

Yorkshire Agricultural Society sponsors Family Run Farm of the Year

Yorkshire Agricultural Society sponsors Family Run Farm of the Year

Dundale Beck Farm at Kildale is farmed by father and daughter team Andrew Petch and Alice Dawson. Andrew’s father previously held the tenancy from the 1960s and he took over in the mid 1990s, when he began a slow change over to the current stocking system.

The 500-acre farm has about 375 acres of grass, 125 acres of arable land and grazing rights for 300 ewes on Great Ayton Moor.

Livestock are two flocks of sheep and a herd of red deer, plus an equestrian side managed by Alice’s husband John.

After college and university Alice came back to the farm following six months on a sheep station in Australia. She also worked for eight seasons contract shepherding and shearing but retired from that after an accident that broke her back. Recovered and mobile, she now concentrates on the farm and her young family.

Andrew Petch and Alice Dawson

Andrew Petch and Alice Dawson

The 850 breeding ewes are split between two flocks, one of Swaledales and one of Mules. The deer enterprise came about in 2010 and now has about 60 breeding hinds with offspring going to the meat trade at 16 to 17 months. “British farmed venison is a beautiful meat that is so underestimated," says Alice. "It has loads of health benefits being high in iron and low in fat."

Read more: Northern Farmer Awards 2023, Sheep Farmer of the Year finalists

Alice feels very lucky that her dad was so supportive as she was growing up, never making her feel that any job was beyond her capabilities. It is something she wants to pass on to three-year-old Peggy and one-year-old Walter, who accompany Alice on the farm every day. By the time she was two, Peggy could already tell the difference between a Swaledale ewe and a Mule.

The 2023 Northern Farmer Awards take place on Thursday, February 23

The 2023 Northern Farmer Awards take place on Thursday, February 23

Top Bridge Farm and Cedarbarn Farm Shop, Café and Miniature Railway, Pickering, is run by fourth generation farmer, Karl Avison and his wife, Mandy, Karl dividing his time between the livestock and fruit and veg growing, and Mandy overseeing the shop.

Karl and Mandy Avison and family

Karl and Mandy Avison and family

Now fourth and fifth-generation farmers, the farm was bought and established by Karl Avison’s great grandparents in 1919 and subsequently farmed by Karl’s grandad, then dad.

The Cedarbarn Farm Shop, Café and Miniature Railway began as a small PYO strawberries caravan in 1995 and has grown into a farm shop and 80-seater café. Karl and Mandy’s daughter, Chloe soon will return to the business after her maternity leave for sixth-generation future farmers, Albert and Freddie, and is set to develop and grow the PYO business. Nearly everything they sell or serve has been produced in Yorkshire, whether it's Karl’s grass-fed Aberdeen Angus beef that is hung for 21 days, Whitby fish, homegrown seasonal fruit and vegetables or deli products.

In Karl’s grandfather’s time, the site of Cedarbarn was the field where they held cattle on the way to market. As a teenager Karl wanted to earn himself more money so put a caravan in one corner of the field and began the PYO strawberry business.

At Top Bridge there are 120 acres, and at the Cedarbarn site a further 28 acres. It is a traditional mixed farm with arable, fruit and vegetables plus cattle and sheep.

With the farm shop and café having taken off, the arable and livestock side are share farmed in collaboration with friend and neighbour David Beal and his son Sam.

The Henshaw family of Mainsgill Farm

The Henshaw family of Mainsgill Farm

Anyone who have travelled across the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith will be familiar with the sight of the expanded Mainsgill Farm at East Layton, run by Andrew and Maria Henshaw and family.

They moved to the then-57-acre Mainsgill Farm in the mid 1990s from Lancashire.

From humble beginnings in 1995 the farm has expanded exponentially and also has a thriving farm shop, gift and food hall and tearoom, employing between 60 and 70 people. The latest expansion in November 2020 saw a two-storey extension built for new retail space and a bigger food hall.

Son Jack now manages the farm while Andrew and Maria concentrate on the farm shop. Daughter Rachel works in the farm shop and deals with buying. Younger son Matthew is also working on the farm and completing his studies.

There are 700 head of cattle, which includes a suckler herd of 120 cows which calve to Limousin and Charolais bulls with replacement heifers going to an Angus bull first. In the farm shop they only use heifer meat as they believe heifers mature better and allow a nice texture to the meat.

The sheep flock at Mainsgill consists of 450 breeding ewes, all Texel and Texel crosses which are then put back to the Texel tups. There are 150 to 120 pigs on the farm at any one time, while the farm grows all its own cereals to feed the livestock which means they have full traceability of their produce from start to finish.

"Our passion and drive is to provide the highest quality home reared produce, keeping alive the farming culture of yesteryear for the future generations," says Jack.