David Rawlings

Leading the team at Priory Farm is David Rawlings, who, through innovation and strategic adaption to market conditions, has successfully diversified into multiple enterprises.

The introduction of a wedding venue, glamping pods and a vodka production business have all added to the core arable farming business and boosted profitability, while supporting its future longevity.

Opening in 2010, the Priory Barn and Cottages have proved a huge success, offering a unique location for weddings and events, comprising a converted barn, a marquee and seven cottages centered around a private  courtyard.

Six years later, work began on the production of vodka, borne from the potatoes grown on-farm and distilled on-site. As potato supplier to some large retailers and restaurants, David was keen to utilise the surplus  produce and sought inspiration from his fellow worker Eric, who had moved from Poland to work and live on the farm with his family.

It was a happy coincidence that Eric had made vodka with his grandfather at home, and with his help, David took to developing a product over a period of two years. It quickly earned some impressive accolades within a
short space of time, including gold awards at the Vodka Masters in 2017.

Environmentally friendly credentials also feature heavily, with the used potatoes being fed to the livestock, the distilling tower being powered through solar and waste kept to an absolute minimum.

Wighill Park Glamping is the latest diversification, which opened in 2020 and is aimed at visitors wanting to experience farm life in comfort and style, offering 12 sustainable, wooden glamping pods and an adults-only shepherd’s hut.

The different diversifications have not only ensured the farm has expanded its revenue streams, but also created new jobs for younger members of the family and enabled the employment of local staff, with David ensuring all training can be provided on-site and all that is needed is a can-do attitude.

David says: “We have always thought there was something special about using the produce we have grown and sharing the unique location of where we are. The farm remains at the core of all diversified businesses and we try to ensure they all support and interact with each other as much as possible. We are committed to providing quality and excellence across our businesses, so our customers have exceptional experiences.”