A Nidderdale man is to enter into an agreement with Yorkshire Water to manage its 900 hectare Humberstone Bank Farm near Blubberhouses as a sustainable ‘farm of the future’.
28-year-old Dacre sheep farmer Jonathan Grayshon fended off competition from 22 other applicants to be awarded the once in a lifetime opportunity.
He was selected to take over the farm following the retirement of the farming family who managed it for 80 years.
Mr Grayshan will take up occupancy of the historic stone farmhouse and manage the 900 hectares of farm land that will be home to around 400 ewes. A cottage and several barns and outhouses are also located on the picturesque site.
Yorkshire Water began searching for a new tenant earlier this year who would be able to manage the land in accordance with its ‘Beyond Nature’ vision to make it a leading farm of the future. This vision required a new tenant - in addition to delivering traditional livestock farming practices – to have the skills and passion to protect wildlife biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage and grouse shooting.
Mr Grayshan said: “Despite working away from home during my career I have always wanted to be based back near my roots and family with my own farm.
“This dream has now become a reality and I am incredibly excited about being able to wake up and go straight out into the fields and buildings to see my stock. Like a lot of young farmers trying to get on the farming ladder it is difficult to get hold of any land, and almost impossible within a ring fence or near where you live. So getting my own farm in Nidderdale will be like living the dream.”
Lisa Harrowsmith, a Lead Surveyor at Yorkshire Water, said: “We believe that Jonathan is the best candidate to deliver this vision that will ensure the farm becomes a standard bearer for innovative, sustainable farming that sensitively manages the land it sits in.”
A key element of the Beyond Nature ethos will be protecting blanket bog by restoring areas of sphagnum moss, which absorbs and slows down rain water runoff to act as a natural flood barrier.
An array of bird wildlife lives on the land that must also be protected including upland birds of prey as well as red grouse and smaller birds such as golden plover and redstarts.
New tenant Jonathan will work closely with other stakeholders and partners to deliver the Beyond Nature vision.