Norfolk farmer scoops 2023 Young Organic Farmer of the Year Award

Farm manager Alex Parkinson from Burgess Farms in Norfolk has been announced as the winner of this year’s Young Organic Farmer of the Year (YOFY) Award, which celebrates prominent young farmers and growers who are passionate about implementing organic principles.

The award was officially presented on 4th July at the National Organic Conference (NOC), organised by Organic Farmers and Growers (OF&G) and hosted by Green Acres Farm in Shropshire.

Alex Parkinson is a farm manager for RBOrganic (part of Burgess Farms) in Norfolk, one of the largest organic carrot growers in the UK. The judges commented that Alex stood out for his ‘wide vision for organic farming, the way he has learnt on the job, and his influence on larger producers to think organic’.

Due to work commitments, Alex received his prize of £1,500 and a selection of books on organic and agroecological farming worth over £500 from Chelsea Green Publishing from Organic Research Centre (ORC) CEO Lucy MacLennan on an earlier date.

At NOC, he was represented by Andrew Burgess, agricultural director for Burgess Farms, who commented: “Alex arrived with us as a young man without a farming background and settled in very quickly to the farm. He’s a quick learner, hungry for knowledge and a hard worker with a great personality.

“We’ve just watched him grow and develop over his 10 years with us, taking on more and more responsibility and building his knowledge base. In organic farming – and horticulture in particular – attention to detail is the difference between making it or not, and he has got that.”

Donald Peck, chair of ORC’s board of trustees, visited Alex with the other judges: “What came across was his enthusiasm, technical knowledge – much of it picked up on the job – and willingness to experiment. His success should show how feasible and sensible it is for larger producers to think organic,” he remarked.

Alex was one of three finalists lined up for the award, the others being vegetable producers Adam Payne and Dee Butterley from Pembrokeshire, and dairy farmers Sophie and Tom Gregory from Dorset.

ORC CEO Lucy MacLennan said the quality of entrants for this year’s award was exceptionally high and all finalists shared a passion for organic farming and demonstrated all the skills required to make a success of their business.

“As the need to embrace organic farming methods becomes ever more evident if we are to combat climate change and address biodiversity loss, we are so proud of our finalists for the difference they are making,” she said.

Roger Kerr, CEO of OF&G, added: “NOC has always aimed to provide a platform for the organic community to come together to meet, share, discuss and demonstrate organic food and farming in action. What better way to celebrate this than through highlighting the work of these young farmers and providing the recognition they so richly deserve.”

Applications for the 2023/24 Young Organic Farmer/Grower of the Year Award are expected to open in October.

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