Worcestershire farmer Jake Freestone is the winner of the first Caroline Drummond Award – Celebrating and Communicating Farming Excellence for his dedication to improving the way he and others farm and sharing that passion with a wide range of public and farming audiences.
Jake Freestone (left) receiving the Caroline Drummond Award. Presented by Caroline's husband, Philip Ward.
The award was set up by The British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, The Institute of Agricultural Management and Linking Environment And Farming to further the legacy of Caroline Drummond MBE, LEAF’s Chief Executive from its formation in 1991 until her death in May 2022. In that time, she guided it to an internationally recognised organisation which continues to be at the forefront of delivering more sustainable food and farming.
Jake received his award at the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ Harvest Lunch in London recently from Caroline’s husband Philip Ward. He said:
“I have found the process of looking through all the entries for this award incredibly rewarding, it made me very happy indeed. The passion and commitment demonstrated for sustainable approaches to farming, by so many, gives hope and excitement for the future. Caroline would have been so proud to witness these entries.
It was decided that Jake Freestone was at the pinnacle of these agricultural heroes and is deservedly the winner of this award. His long-term commitment to sustainable farming, coupled with his relentless outreach to the industry and the wider world are an exemplary combination.”
“I am truly humbled and honoured to have been awarded the inaugural Caroline Drummond Award. Caroline was and always will be, my inspiration for so many things that I’ve accomplished in my career and in sharing the story about what’s brilliant about our farm, soil, water, air, biodiversity, food and our fellow farmers. Caroline’s legacy of farming innovation, caring for and helping others, whilst telling our positive story, will live on in this award and with so many other likeminded people.”
“Highlighting the importance of the environmental work carried out by farmers is vital, especially when it comes to getting the message across to as wide an audience as possible. The guild is pleased and proud to be a part of the Caroline Drummond Award and Jake Freestone is a very worthy first winner. He has done so much public-facing work in relation to farming at Overbury, sharing his experiences across the country and beyond. Our congratulations go to Jake and our thanks also go to Philip Ward for presenting Jake with his award and for all his support.”
"We at IAgrM are immensely proud to support the Caroline Drummond Award. Our congratulations go out to Jake Freestone for this well-deserved honour. His achievements echo the spirit and dedication that this award represents."
The award was commissioned from Northumberland wood sculptor Oliver Richardson - www.ogrsculpting.com. It is made with yew from Cornwall, the county Caroline called home. Jake also receives 30 trees from the Woodland Trust to plant a Caroline Drummond wood.
There was a strong list of 25 entries for the first Caroline Drummond Award with outstanding examples of farming excellence and communication from across the UK and beyond. The judges thanked all the entrants and urged them and others to consider entering next year.
There were three Highly Commended winners:
There were also five shortlisted winners: Colin Chappell (Lincolnshire), Carol Johnson (Northumberland farm consultant), Dr. Alastair Leake (Allerton Project and GWCT), Simon Smart (Wiltshire farm consultant) and David Thomas (Cornwall vegetable grower).
Jake has transformed the way Overbury Estate near Tewkesbury, Worcestershire is farmed in the 20 years that he has managed it. A firm believer in Integrated Farm Management (IFM) and regenerative approaches to production, he has pioneered the use of direct drilling, cover cropping, rotations, livestock integration and companion cropping. That has allowed the farm to maintain and build crop yields in a range of crops including milling wheat, oilseed rape, beans, peas, linseed, winter and spring malting barley and quinoa. The new system has cut the cost of establishing a crop of wheat by two thirds. The farm is also LEAF Marque certified.
Overbury Estate is also home to 950 outdoor lambing ewes, who add to the farm’s fertility, with trials of winter-grazing cereal crops showing promising results. The integrated and regenerative approach has boosted soil carbon and organic matter levels. A recent birdlife study by the British Trust for Ornithology, found nine red list species including; yellow hammer, green finish, grasshopper warbler and skylark.
Sharing the farm’s story with a wide range of audiences is very important to Jake. Overbury has been a LEAF Demonstration Farm for more then 10 years and has hosted hundreds of farming groups, international visitors and government officials. The farm works remotely with Washingborough Academy in Lincolnshire as part of the Farmer Time project. There is a also a nursey school at Overbury where children are introduced to the joys of farming and the countryside at an early age.
Jake is very active on social media and is a regular farming commentator and speaker. He is also the NFU county chair for Worcestershire. The BBC often call on his expertise locally and nationally, which has included advising The Archers on featuring the Soil Your Undies campaign which involved burying underpants in soil to see how quickly they degraded!
Read more about Overbury Enterprises here.