Alex and Emily Crawley

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The opening characteristics of this year’s finalists quite rightly summarise Alex and the adversity he has faced.

Alex is a war veteran who proudly served with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

Following his diagnosis with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2017, he took a voluntary placement working with dairy cattle, which he said helped ‘soothe’ his PTSD.

When Alex won a Clyde-Higgs scholarship via the Royal Agricultural University, it was a dream come true. His studies culminated in working numerous jobs including calf rearing, dairy, sheep, beef and harvest work. His drive and determination enabled him
to gain experience and learn new skills.

After being awarded the Haygarth medal for graduating as a top student on the course, Alex soon got a job working on a large-scale beef and sheep farm.

His idea to formulate a business – Grazing Management – was just a pipe dream, but it did give him recognition when he won the National ADAS Pinnacle Awards for farm student business plan of the year.

With hope, tenacity and forwardthinking, Alex managed to secure 2.4 hectares (six acres) of rough pasture and launched Grazing Management in 2020. He credits the strength and valour of his wife, Emily, in building the business’ ethos which is centered on teamwork and togetherness.

One of Alex’s main focuses has been to take on contract conservation grazing to restore wildflower meadows, peatlands and heathlands. He takes on areas which are no longer commercially farmed and aims to bring them back to grazing.

“I worked with three different conservation grazing organisations to learn their best practice and combined this with my experience of standard livestock farming,” he says.

“This led to developing a unique business, focused on delivering a service rather than a product, and we have had success in making the business profitable and successful.

“With a military background, I bring planning, operational delivery and risk management skills. I am also not afraid of a bit of hard graft and bad weather.

“It is never going to be hotter than Helmand and it is never going to be colder than after two weeks living rough in the Black Mountains in January.

“However hard it gets, no one tried to kill me or my mates, so I put on a smile on and get back on with it.

What Alex and Emily

“We are genuinely blown away and we just wasn’t expecting it and so excited.”

“Innovation in the farming industry is important and we are incredibly proud to farm in a regenerative way that is respectful of the environmental and balancing food production.”

“There are a whole range of businesses here today and it is inspiring to be part of it and see what everyone is doing. “We are new entrants to farming and it is actually good to know that we are doing, we are doing well at. We have so much respect for other farmers and are just honoured to be part of this farming community.”

“Serving in the military helped me to understand the discipline of taking risks and understanding things are going to go wrong. Whether you work as a team or on your own, we get on with to achieve the end goal.”

“Tonight has been a great evening and we have really enjoyed meeting other farmers, and utterly blown away to see nearly 800 people and to be part of it.”

What the Judges said

“Forward thinking business model with an environmental focus. Passionate, warm people. Very good profitability.”