Worcestershire farm manager Jake Freestone has won the first Caroline Drummond Award in recognition of his dedication to sharing his passion for farming and improving agricultural sustainability with farmers and the public.
Set up to honour the legacy of LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond, who died in 2022, the award recognises people who share Caroline’s passion for creating more sustainable food and farming systems and communicating those efforts with the wider world.
Judges said Jake, who manages Overbury Estate near Tewkesbury, showed an “exemplary combination” of commitment to sustainable farming with “relentless outreach” to the public and wider industry.
Over 20 years he has pioneered the use of regenerative farming practices including direct drilling, cover cropping, livestock integration and companion cropping, which has helped reduce costs, boost soil carbon and improve farm biodiversity.
Overbury has also been a LEAF demonstration farm from over a decade, hosting farming groups, international visitors and government officials, and Jake welcomes children to the farm to learn about farming and the countryside. He is also very active on social media, where he shares details of his activities.
Commitment to sustainable farming
Presenting the award to him at the BGAJ Harvest Lunch in October, Caroline’s husband Philip Drummond said Jake’s showed passion and commitment for sustainable approaches to farming, an attitude that “gives hope and excitement for the future” and would have made Caroline proud to witness.
Guild chairman Johann Tasker said Jake’s work in sharing his experiences in farming at Overbury made him a worthy first winner of the award.
“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.”
Jake said he was humbled to win the award that honoured Caroline’s legacy of farming innovation, helping others, and telling positive stories about agriculture.
“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, our soil, water, air, biodiversity, food and our fellow farmers,” he added. “Caroline’s legacy… will live on in this award and with so many likeminded people.”
Jake was presented with an award trophy commissioned from Northumberland sculptor Oliver Richardson, who made it from yew from Cornwall – the county Caroline called home. Jake also received 30 trees from the Woodland Trust to plant a Caroline Drummond wood.
A total of 25 farmers submitted entries to the award, which is jointly supported by the BGAJ, LEAF and the Institute of Agricultural Management.
Three other entries were highly commended by the judges, including Suffolk farmer Patrick Barker, Professor Rosemary Collier from the University of Warwick, and Doreen Irungu from Ustawi Africa in Kenya.