GROWERS in Somerset have come out top in the Organic Research Centre (ORC) awards. 

The winners of the Young Organic Farmer/Grower of the Year (YOFGY) Award 2024 have been revealed, and Adam Beer and Rita Oldenbourg, head growers at Pitney Farm Market Garden in Langport, are celebrating after winning the award. 

Alongside the Somerset pair, Chris Gospel, a beef, sheep and arable farmer in Aberdeenshire, also won the YOFGY award.

“Adam and Rita stood out for their exceptional standard of growing and innovation, producing great quality vegetables for the local community," the judges said.

"They put into practice the organic principles and run a very successful, well-established business, employing several staff on a remarkably small area of land.

“Equally, Chris was notable for his very high standard of organic farming, running a traditional beef, sheep and arable system alongside novel crops, sometimes intersown, and processing of organic rape seed oil, branded as ÒR-ganic and sold in certain specialist shops.

"Animal welfare is a high priority, biodiversity is well integrated into the farming system and he provides a great opportunity for students and others to learn from his experiences.”

Vegetables growing. Image: ORCVegetables growing. Image: ORC (Image: Organic Research Centre)

The winners were announced at the National Organic Conference (NOC) yesterday (July 2 2024) held in Kingsclere Estates, Hampshire and organised by the Organic Farmers and Growers. Each winner will receive a prize of £1,500.

"It's a privilege to receive this award, and great that this recognition exists to celebrate the work organic farmers do to improve soil health and ecology whilst producing quality nutritious food," said Adam and Rita. 

"We feel very lucky to be part of such a supportive community who are so happy to share ideas and their knowledge so freely. Part of what we love about producing food organically is the ability to experiment, learn and innovate. This award will give us the confidence to continue experimenting and developing our systems to improve our farms' resilience and positive impact in the face of climate change and an uncertain future.

"We wouldn't have made it this far without our brilliantly supportive customers and the hard work of the people who have worked with us over the years."