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.
“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.