We were extremely lucky to have three fantastic finalists in the Devon Bronze Otter running for this year. Our judges Ashley Taylor, Assistant Land Steward at Duchy of Cornwall, and Alex Stevens, Regional Policy Manager at NFU, had a tough two days of judging in early September 2023. However, after scoring and consulting, the 2023 winner of the Devon bronze otter award has been awarded to The Apricot Centre!

Here is a run through of the judges journey...


Visit 1 – Lovaton Farm

An excellent start to our judging tour – very impressive!  Jane spoke really passionately about the mixed farm enterprise, direct sales to the consumer, the tourism diversification and particularly about her efforts to engage with children on farm via a mix of farm group and school visits. 

The farm scored really highly with production sustainability and community engagement being standout areas.  It really felt like a mixed enterprise that was maximising its production capacity and complementing it perfectly with direct sales, butchery and environmental enhancement. 



Lovaton Farm


Visit 2 – Woodhouse Farm

A beautiful place to live and work thanks to Brian’s hard work to create a productive haven with a particular focus on bird life.  The farm scored very strongly for its wildlife and biodiversity credentials (it really was hard to think of anything more that could be done to maximise this) as well as Brian’s clearly thought-out plans for the future which focused on orchards, a more diverse mix of fruit trees and walnut trees. 



Woodhouse Farm


Visit 3 - Apricot Centre

While there are imminent plans to grow the business with increased acreage, it was incredibly impressive to learn more from Rachel about the impressive output from the site as well as the successful education and wellbeing work that sits alongside.  All elements of this not-for-profit company must stand on their own two feet financially and the farm is no exception – a diverse product base helps to make sure of this as well as attention to detail ensuring that not only is productivity maximised but capital items earn their keep too.  For example the apple juicing and bottling equipment is now used by other producers, the delivery vans are electric and charged via the on-farm solar and battery storage and relationships have been forged with neighbouring farmers to help with equipment that it wouldn’t be cost effective to buy – such as kit for baling the herbal leys.  Cattle are thoughtfully mob grazed in a way which adds to soil fertility for growth of crops and production is planned carefully based on consumer demand.  Those consumers include restaurants, market customers and over 150 homes who are part of a box scheme. 

Staff in this diverse enterprise are well supported and invested in but this investment also extends to the wider farming community with support and training given through peer-to-peer learning, train the trainer events and more.  A recent success was starting a wildlife tracking/identifying course which has proved popular with new entrants to farming.

The Apricot Centre came out on top in the scoring process because they managed to pick up a solid score in every category rather than having one or two stand-out areas – and that comes down to attention to detail, knowing your market and following wildlife and biodiversity practices that fit in around a core system of food production.



Apricot Centre


Excellent work from each of our finalists, and huge congratulations to our winners for 2023, the Apricot Centre. Rachel Phillips, Director at the Apricot Centre, said: 

"We are delighted to have been awarded the Bronze Otter award. It is a testament to the incredibly hard work the farm, wellbeing and education teams at the Apricot Centre put into the business .  They ensure that  the farm not only benefits those within our local community who buy and eat our delicious food, take part in our education programmes and have therapy at the farm but also the diverse community of wildlife and plants who thrive here. 

 The Apricot Century strives to create sustainability in land, lives and livelihoods."


Many thanks to each entrant in the Devon Bronze Otter this year, we know its a big ask to put yourself forward for judging and we greatly appreciate the time you put aside for this. Congratulations to each of you for all the excellent work you are doing on your farms. A huge thank you to Ashley and Alex, our judges, for making the time to judge each finalist this year, we couldn't have done it without your expert help and dedication. 

We are excited to be hosting a farm walk with the Apricot Centre which will take place Spring 2024, keep an eye out on our 'Events' page for more details in the new year...