John and Bowhill make it happen

Amy and John Park, with Ed Morris of Buccleuch Estates
Amy and John Park, with Ed Morris of Buccleuch Estates

Bowhill Estate has won an award recognising its work in creating sustainable farming units and partnerships.

The Scottish Land & Estates’ South East region’s ‘Helping It Happen’ award comes after the estate established a new farm partnership enabling tenant John Park and his family to succeed his parents’ Drinkstone Farm, despite challenging economic conditions.

In 2014, John’s parents decided to retire, but John wished to continue farming the 1,254 acre unit with his wife and two children.

The farm was running 1,215 breeding ewes along with 70 suckler cows. The sheep included high-performance pedigree Suffolk and Texel flocks, but a shortfall of capital meant he was unable to fully stock the farm.

Working with the assistance of SAC consulting, John developed a comprehensive business plan, and based on this Buccleuch and the Park family were able to enter into partnership.

John provided half the capital alongside his own knowledge and expertise for the day-to-day running of the farm. Buccleuch provided the other half, together with a farm tenancy for five years and management expertise in agriculture, finance and health & safety.

John said: “The partnership we enjoy with Bowhill Estate demonstrates what can be achieved by working together to a common goal.

“Both parties want to ensure Drinkstone is a thriving, profitable business, and Bowhill has been willing to put knowledge and resources forward to make this happen.

“Together, we’ve tried to map out the best future for the farm and I’m appreciative of the role the estate continues to play in this.”

Increased capital has allowed the farm to be stocked at 920 ewes with the aim to increase to 1,120 ewes. Keeping investment between the estate and John has minimised third-party involvement to ensure stability within the business to the benefit of both parties.

The partnership has resulted in a stronger, more stable and sustainable business, while achieving operational excellence allowing a win-win situation.

Nominations open in March for the national Helping It Happen awards, and members of the public will be invited to propose their local estate where it has done something to help their community. An awards ceremony will be held in late May and more details on the campaign, and the awards, can be found at www.helpingithappen.co.uk

Edward Morris, estate manager at Bowhill Estate, said: “Everyone at Bowhill Estate is delighted to be receive the Helping it Happen award to promote what can be achieved by an estate working in partnership with other businesses and the community.

“John and his family had the necessary skills so Bowhill’s role was to ensure the unit was viable in the medium to long-term and that the capital was available to allow the farm to prosper.

“At a time when farming businesses have experienced significant challenge, John and Bowhill have worked together to ensure Drinkstone Farm can flourish.”