Three farms from South Cumbria have made it to the finals of the British Farming Awards 2023.

Patrick Morris-Eyton, from Beckside Farm in Millom, Amy Bateman of Kendal's Croft Foot Farm, and sisters Tamara and Tracey Alexander, who run Greenbank Farm in Cartmel, have all been nominated.

A shortlist of 60 farmers from across the country will be competing across 18 categories with the ceremony taking place at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham on October 19.

Mr Morris-Eyton, who has been nominated as Dairy Farmer of the Year,  has a focus on cow health, welfare and performance which has led to an uplift in yield.

"The relationship we have with our specialist dairy vet is key to the herd’s health performance and therefore both its efficiency and environmental impact," he said.

"Through our vet, we have an in-depth herd health plan with a protocol in place for every potential health issue."

The Westmorland Gazette: Patrick Morris-Eyton could be named Dairy Farmer of the YearPatrick Morris-Eyton could be named Dairy Farmer of the Year (Image: British Farming Awards)

Average production per cow per year is now 11,800 litres at 4.4 per cent butterfat and 3.4 per cent protein.

Alongside this, there have been significant improvements in pregnancy rates, which have increased from 20 per cent to 31 per cent.

Ms Bateman and the two Alexanders will be going to head-to-head in the Diversification of the Year (Small to Medium) category.

"My diversification is not just about adding an income stream - I want to add value to British farming," Ms Bateman explained.

The Westmorland Gazette: Amy Bateman's love of photography has brought the struggles of farming to a public audienceAmy Bateman's love of photography has brought the struggles of farming to a public audience (Image: British Farming Awards)

She has combined her love of photography with the business, which helped her be named British Life Photographer of the Year.

Her book, Forty Farms, was published in September 2022, bringing her work to a wider audience and sharing the reality of British farming.

After winning the major title of British Life Photographer of the Year, Amy and her husband sat down to create a business plan capitalising on the win, conscious of farming subsidies being reduced.

This started with photography tours on-farm, before installing two luxury glamping pods to offer photography holidays.

There is an on-farm studio in a stable, and the business offers photography days at Lake District farms, including their own.

In contrast, Greenbank Farm has diversified its output through its Stable Stays scheme, which started in 2019.

The programme gives guests the opportunity to spend a night with the resident horses.

The Westmorland Gazette: Tamara and Tracey Alexander of Greenbank FarmTamara and Tracey Alexander of Greenbank Farm (Image: British Farming Awards)

They combined Tracey’s passion for horses, specifically Friesian horses, with Tamara’s business skills to create a unique diversification project.

Tamara said: "This unique experience was the first of its kind in the world.

"The diversification has fitted neatly into our core business of grazing land and equestrian facilities by utilising the farm buildings and animals in unique ways."

Holidaymakers can stay in a double stable with a luxury bed, where their chosen horse can put its head over the dividing screen to ‘say hello’ to anyone on the top bunk. Guests can see through the clear screen to watch their stablemate sleeping or munching on hay.

There is also the option of a Shetland pony, which can join in the accommodation side of the stable.

Going forward, the cost of living crisis has been flagged as one of the biggest challenges as it has slowed down bookings. But they are taking proactive steps by distributing leaflets and reaching out to local schools and care homes.

In the future, the family are also looking at expanding the concept with another overnight experience alongside their small flock of pet sheep.