Organic dairy wins Queen’s Award

Northern organic dairy supplier Acorn Dairy has won a prestigious award for commitment to the environment, generating its own energy and farming organically.

Northern organic dairy farm Acorn Dairy has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its commitment to low-carbon energy and organic farming.

Based in Archdeacon Newton, near Darlington, Acorn Dairy is run by siblings Caroline Bell and Graham Tweddle. The farm’s milk is delivered to customers of organic veg box company Riverford across the north of England, as well as through its own delivery network.

“Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, from how we feed the herd to how we generate our power,” said Bell.

“We are constantly reviewing our sustainability strategy, working with industry experts and bodies to find new ways, trial new technologies and understand changes that we can implement.”

The farm was recognised in the awards for commitment to producing organically, using no pesticides or artificial fertilisers, and avoiding routine antibiotics for its 500-strong herd of dairy Shorthorn cows.

It also generates its own energy through its on-site wind turbine, bottles all milk in its own plant, reducing unnecessary food miles, and uses glass bottles.

Its next goal, which it expects to achieve this year, is to feed 100 per cent UK-produced food to its cows, no longer relying on any imported maize protein.

Acorn Dairy
Siblings Caroline Bell and Graham Tweddle run Acorn Dairy in North East England. 

“Our overall business is stronger thanks to the sustainability interventions we have made,” Bell added. “Each one, such as going organic and installing the wind turbine, has led to our business growing, thanks to their ability to provide our customers with better service, better products and a better impact on the local environment.

“As well as boosting our business, we can see the impact our practices have had on our local environment; we now host 98 different bird species across the year and have many red list species, including tree sparrows, oyster catchers and little owls.”

Also recognised in this year’s Queen’s Awards was Toast Ale, established by food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart to turn surplus bread into craft beer, with all profits going to its charity partner Feedback.

It won the award for showing the circular economy at its best, raising awareness of a key sustainable development issue and providing practical and engaging solutions to food waste with all profits used in charitable work.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are for outstanding achievement by UK businesses in four categories: innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity through social mobility.


Leave a Reply

  1. Sorry to rain on the parade of people who believe they are doing something good, but at no point is the welfare of the animals or the overall sustainability of animal farming mentioned in this article.

    Dairy is cruel and unsustainable by its very nature. Dairy cows are artificially impregnated every year and their calves removed shortly after birth, with those who are unwanted (all males) being killed, although they might be raised briefly for veal. Females usually enter the cycle of pregnancy and milking. This is pure exploitation for profit, without consideration of the cruel nature of stealing an animal’s babies year in, year out. To cap it all, dairy is incredibly unhealthy for humans and linked to many diseases and some cancers, like all animal products.
    When are people going to wise up and live healthy lives that don’t involve unnecessary cruelty to animals? To those who would claim that drinking another creatures breast milk is “natural”, I would ask them to think about this, because it is certainly nothing of the sort. People are conditioned from childhood to think that our breeding, abuse and killing of farmed animals is completely natural, acceptable and necessary, when it is none of those things. ALL of the debilitating chronic fatal diseases of humans in the West are exacerbated, caused or linked to consumption of animal products. This has been proven over and over again by scientific research which is ignored in favour of the status quo. All animal products have a greater negative effect on our environment than equivalent plant based alternatives. All animal products involve cruelty and killing of sentient animals that have characters and personalities very similar to those that people keep as pets.

    60% of mammals on Earth are livestock according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and 36% humans. How is this in anyway sustainable?

    Instead of tinkering with the unsustainable system and believing it will make a difference, we need to stop destroying the planet and its other life forms for reasons of habit and profit.

    1. The current system of factory farming globally is unsustainable, but as dietary choices and ethical viewpoints vary, while people choose to include meat and dairy in their diet this must be done in the most sustainable way possible. Supporting producers who work more sustainably, encouraging more people to eat organic (having ‘less and better’ animal produce) and increasing the amount of veg, pulses and grains on our plates would be a good start for improving both animal welfare and biodiversity.

  2. Could not put it better. Dairy is very cruel to sentient animals..
    And regarding climate change and the need for sustainable food production- Anna Jones’s Wicked Leeks article “How we eat can Change the World” of 7 May has it-she said:
    “Until now I have been gentle in my approach to asking people to shift how they eat, to put plants at the centre of their plates. But time is running out; we need to change how we eat now.”

  3. I am not sure that a well maintained dairy herd such as the one mentioned ‘suffers’. I agree we need to change how we eat, but how do we achieve that so that many more people don’t suffer malnutrition or worse? The political agenda has to confront reality, really listen to the best agronomists, not the lobbies, and start to think creatively and realistically how the country can support small mixed farms producing a wide range of food to be sold locally, including some dairy. Britain has a lot of land only suitable for pasture, and I don’t think transforming much of it into parks or ‘natural’ spaces is viable.

  4. Indeed, dairy is very cruel to sentient animals, and pictures of happy cows grazing in the fields should be replaced by pictures of the calves being cruelly taken away from their mothers, the artificial insemination practices and the appalling abbatoirs where these poor creatures meet their end in terror and pain. As for suffering from malnutrition if we do not eat dairy products – is it not an established fact that vegans lead healthier and longer lives than meat and dairy consumers? Anyone can read the enormous amount of research which clearly illustrates not only is dairy NOT healthy for us, but (among many other health issues) it is a causitive factor in osteoporosis. People eat too much dairy and meat and the demand for this food drives factory farming, profiteering and the horrific suffering of millions of sentient beings. (We are not vegan, simply very healthy dairy-free vegetarians).


In case you missed it

Receive the Digital Digest

Food, Farming, Fairness, every Friday.

Learn more

About us

Find out more about Wicked Leeks and our publisher, organic veg box company Riverford.

Learn more