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.
The new tenant, Jonathan Grayshon, is a 28-year-old local sheep farmer from Dacre in Nidderdale who fended off competition from 22 other applicants to be awarded the once in a lifetime opportunity.
He was selected to take over the farm, set in stunning Nidderdale countryside, following the retirement of the farming family that previously managed it for the past 80 years.
Jonathan Grayshon 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.
Jonathan 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.”
Jonathan is a sheep farmer and breeder who has extensive experience managing a large agri-business enterprise. Since 2013, he has managed his family’s own farming business in Dacre and previously specialised in beef and sheep production with the Scottish Agricultural College.
Lisa Harrowsmith, a lead surveyor at Yorkshire Water, said: “Humberstone is a traditional hill farm at heart that lies in a SSSI zone, producing top quality stock that farmers are proud to produce. However, as well as grazing, the Beyond Nature ethos is all about sustainable farming that protects water quality, wildlife biodiversity, peatland and carbon storage.
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.