Chris, Sue & Thomas Heseltine

Chris, Sue and Thomas Heseltine have ensured their diversification goes beyond the traditional realms of a farm park.

What began as a small diversification within the 1,000-strong livestock farm has now become the main enterprise, with visitor numbers in excess of 60,000 from February to October.

The farm diversification provides an educational, hands on opportunity for families and schoolchildren to learn about food production and farming.

Visitors can expect to see and interact with a large number of animals and activities, from egg collection and feeding lambs to brushing pigs and seeing chicks hatch.

There is a significant outdoor area for families to play and picnic in, although the on-site shop is also open.

Education is fundamental throughout the park, with information points and boards displayed across many areas about the animals and the farm.

The family hosts daily visits for primary schoolchildren, with many groups travelling from urban cities of Leeds and Bradford.

Each school is divided into structured groups of 20 children, which are rotated every 30 minutes, taking part in five different activities with members of staff, who comprise four full-time and 37 part-time workers.

Although initially the family relied on leaflet distribution and media, word of mouth has ensured new and loyal customers along with a growing presence on social media.

Sue, who says they always introduce new additions to the farm park each year to keep it vibrant and varied, says: “Both the farm businesses and the diversification rely on each other to maintain the farming link and ensure the business is successful.

“With visitor expectations continuing to rise, we must ensure our attraction continues to be an interesting, high-quality visit, without steering away from our core principles of farming, education and the countryside within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

What the Judges said

Thomas has proved that with determination, anything is possible. Utilising a tenancy farm to develop such an educating, successful farm park shows true grit. The work they have put in to develop the business is evident and they are a great inspiration to others on what is possible with farm diversification.”