Lancashire farm worker scoops silver at British Farming Awards and rubs shoulders with Jeremy Clarkson and Kaleb Cooper
A farm worker who only entered the industry because of the Covid pandemic has received national recognition for her work.
Emma Houlton of Farringtons Farm, based in Hesketh Bank, was nominated as Farm Worker of the Year, and scooped silver at a glittering ceremony.
She said: "I am still in complete shock that I have won a British Farming Award!
"I only came into farming 18 months ago and receiving national recognition for my hard work as a farm worker is incredible. I am proud to represent the growing number of women coming into farming and those that have come into agriculture with a non-farming background."
TV star Jeremy Clarkson also won a prize at the British Farming Awards.
His Amazon Prime show, Clarkson’s Farm, which sees him grow crops and look after livestock in the Cotswolds, helped him land the flying the flag for British agriculture award alongside farm worker Kaleb Cooper.
Sheep farmer and author James Rebanks recently said Clarkson’s Farm has done more for farming in one series than Countryfile achieved in 30 years.
Emma, 37, began working for Farrington's in Hesketh Bank two days after lockdown in March last year, having spent 10 years as a radio producer with her own company.
As Covid took its toll on her cash flow and she looked for other employment, she saw an urgent call for British workers to help on farms because of a lack of labour from abroad due to Brexit and Covid.
She started out as an operative in the field harvesting and in the greenhouse loading plants. Fifteen months later she was promoted to a management position with responsibilities including co-ordinating orders and logistics, leading and motivating the team, training new team members and operating automatic planters.
Emma, who is originally from Driffield, East Yorkshire, says she has the mentality of "if you see an obstacle, leap over it", and soon got the hang of the machinery and the farm way of life, which she says is "very physically demanding."
She has thanked the Farrington family for their support in helping her on her journey, which she is now documenting on Instagram under the handle @princesscabbageuk
The Farrington farm is now in its third generation with sons Paul and Stephen Farrington overseeing operations. A vegetable growing business, they grow spring greens and kale in the field alongside their plant propagation business which is three acres of greenhouses.
They sow and propagate all their own crops in these greenhouses alongside plants for other growers and customers across the UK. They are one of the largest propagators of leeks in the country.
They also farm land in Flintshire, growing spring greens, cavolo nero and green kale. In total they farm around 300 acres and have a team of around 20 permanent and seasonal staff.