The ambitious and dynamic vision of the Mee family coupled with their drive to safeguard the farm’s future for the next generation is exemplary. Danusia Osiowy finds out more about the 2022 winners of the Family Farming Business of the Year.

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The Mee family works as an exemplary collective unit, with each of them taking on different roles in this hugely diverse business. With a huge focus on sustainable farming, the family is also changing their process to regenerative farming to help make the farm environmentally and financially sustainable in the long-term. Their diversification enterprises are delivered with creativity and flair, and together they are a force to be reckoned with. A leap of faith diversifying into blueberry production is the Mee’s family most recent – and financially significant – addition to their family farming enterprise. Peter and Zoe Mee run Lyveden Farm, made up of 283 hectares (700 acres) of predominantly arable land in the Nene Valley, Northamptonshire. The couple are fully supported by their children Emily, 26, and Charlie, 23, who work full-time on the farm. The family works as an admirably collective unit, with each member taking on different roles within the hugely diverse business. Alongside their astute business acumen and ambition to make the farm more environmentally and financially viable, this is one of the key reasons they were named Family Farming Business of the Year at last year’s British Farming Awards. Since moving to the farm in 1994, the couple’s core crops have been spring and winter wheat, spring barley, linseed, rye, peas and beans.

They operate third-party storage and drying facilities for Frontier Agriculture, accommodating 8,000 tonnes of harvested commodities from other suppliers who do not have enough on-site storage, alongside contract farming 243ha (600 acres) under various arrangements for four nearby farmers. Emily, who completed her chartered accountancy in 2020 before returning to the farm, manages the weighbridge facility and initiated the blueberry product development. Charlie, who returned from agricultural college at 18, manages the farm’s arable and contracting operations, while his girlfriend Charlotte, 24, is also employed fulltime as the packhouse manager. Zoe says: “We are proud to have a family business with everybody helping one another when needed and knowing what is happening across the whole business through family meetings. Peter and I still manage the overall business but encourage Emily, Charlie and Charlotte to take on more responsibilities within their roles.

With a huge focus on sustainable farming practices, the family is moving towards a regenerative farming system, reducing passes over the land, increasing crop rotation and adding in the use of cover crops to help make the farm environmentally and financially sustainable in the long-term. “As farmers, we believe we should be giving back to the land and looking after the environment, improving soils, rather than draining all its nutrients for higher yields short-term,” says Zoe. “We have worked on our environmental efforts through Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship and become involved with schemes as we move to methods to reduce our carbon footprint.”


In 2014, they embarked on their most recent on-farm diversification and ventured into blueberry production, which required a huge initial cost for compost, plants, irrigation and polytunnels, with no return at all for the first two years. From an initial yield of 3t, the family remained steadfast and achieved a record year in 2022 yielding 148t across 15ha (37 acres). Packed on-site, the produce is being supplied into M&S and Waitrose in both their standard and premium ranges.
“The diversification helped us spread our risk, reducing our reliance on arable income streams, while making use of our existing irrigation licence, which was valuable to have but not being utilised,” adds Zoe. “The income from the blueberry diversification was able to support the arable side of the business through the difficult year of 2019/2020. ”The decision to reduce the amount of waste out of the pack house also sparked the introduction of product development. Any fruit which would not last the seven days shelf life required for supermarket specifications is frozen on-site. Emily says: “As a business, we didn’t want our best and sweetest fruit going to waste. So we decided to freeze the fruit and use it in product development, but Covid-19 delayed the product development plans. “Rather than not do anything at all, we saw an opportunity to sell the frozen fruit to the local community using social media. “We also ran a pop-up shop every two weeks at the farm which has given us a good customer base to trial our products as they are developed.”

“We are proud to have a family business with everybody helping one another when needed and knowing what is happening across the whole business through family meetings” Zoe Mee

Product development

Their product portfolio, branded Mee Blueberries, includes a blueberry and lavender jam; blueberry, beetroot and chilli chutney, blueberry gin liqueur and a blueberry vodka liqueur. All of which are sold through their website direct to consumers. There are also a number of other products in the pipeline, with fruit juice and wine potential opportunities in the future. As a result of their product development and recent website launch, the Mee family is able to attend food markets and village events, giving them the opportunity to reach a wider geographic audience. Zoe says: “There is also the opportunity to develop further blueberry products and by talking to our current customer base we are taking note of their suggestions for blueberry products they would like to see developed in the future. “We can then research the viability
of these products and see if we can make them work.” Communication remains a key focus area going forwards and Zoe believes the opportunities can only help to strengthen the profile of the family business. “The greater the need becomes to educate the consumer about where and how their food is produced in the UK, to encourage them to support UK-grown food, the greater the role becomes for British farmers to promote food and farming and how it works in harmony with the environment,” says Zoe. “We want to educate the consumer firstly that blueberries are grown in the UK, show them how they are grown and give them the chance to taste them.

“Our key driver for farm improvement is always our children and building resilience into the business for future generations”
Zoe Mee


“We also want to share with the consumer why our farm is moving across to regenerative farming, what it involves and its benefits to the environment, together with other environmental efforts being made
on-farm to improve biodiversity.” They have already taken strides and are now involved with Open Farm Sunday, school visits, and community events and more events are on the horizon. On winning the Family Farming Business of the Year, Zoe believes it was a chance to reflect on what had they achieved together as a team. “We spent a number of years building a business to make an opportunity for our children to come and work for it and we have achieved that.

“However big or small, simple or complex you think your business is, you have to reflect on what you have achieved, congratulate yourself and each other and be proud and shout about it.
“Our key driver for farm improvement is always our children and building resilience into the business for future generations.”


  • Sustainable farming practices 35,000kW solar panels on the farm’s grain store rooves
  • Ground source heat pump for the farmhouse
  • Regenerative farming techniques
  • Creation of a new on-farm compost to reduce the need for additional fertiliser
  • Planting 6,800 hedgerow plants across the farm
  • Installed rainwater harvesting systems
  • Recyclable punnets

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At the heart of many farms lie the families behind them who, through generations, have developed their business to help secure its place for years to come. As a family, you will be able to clearly demonstrate a shared vision of where the business is going and who is responsible for the different areas core to the farm. You will also be able to confidently identify short- and long-term business challenges and work collectively to overcome them and develop new ideas and efficiencies. Succession planning will also be part of your future to help safeguard the family farm.


For more information on the category and the British Farming Awards visit