Chris Scott-Park of Portnellan Farm, on the banks of Loch Lomond, has been chosen as the winner of the final NEWBIE UK award for New Entrant of the Year for 2021. Originally a successful organic beef business and winners of the James Hutton Institute’s Best Soil in Show 2015 award, Portnellan Farm now features a thriving water sports business started by Chris, with facilities available to visitors of the popular Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park area.
The European Commission-funded NEWBIE project (2018-2021) explored business models for innovation, entrepreneurship and resilience in European agriculture. The NEWBIE Award was offered to new entrants in eight European countries including the UK, as part of a suite of opportunities aiming to help new farmers, crofters and small-holders network and develop successful businesses.
Since returning from university in 2013, Chris Scott-Park started a water sport business at Portnellan Farm, diversifying his family’s organic beef farm to include boat tours of Loch Lomond, kayaking and paddle boarding. The farm also offers glamping facilities and a renovated self-catered farm cottage available to hire for families and tourists visiting Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.
On winning the award, Mr Scott-Park commented: “I was surprised and delighted to have been given the 2021 NEWBIE Award. It is humbling to be recognised in this way as there are so many new, innovative and inspiring farm businesses out there and I really hope that by winning this award I can help to encourage other new entrants to try something different and to make a success of their ideas.”
As part of the award, Mr Scott-Park will receive €500 towards the cost of training or an international visit and an award plaque, plus the opportunity to participate in the final NEWBIE conference this month with other award winners and project stakeholders in Montpellier, France.
Other finalists included Ellie Banwell’s Scrumptious Garden, Sarah and Hugh Asher of Darach Croft, Bryde and Nat’s Falkland Kitchen Farm and Mhairi Player’s Berwick Wood Produce. The shortlisted applications were reviewed by members of the NEWBIE UK Steering group who represent farming interests across the UK.
James MacKessack Leitch, Policy and Practice Lead at Scottish Land Commission and part of the NEWBIE award panel, remarked: “I’ve been really impressed with the resilience and sustainability demonstrated by all of the nominees this year, and the breadth of innovation on show made picking a winner very challenging. Given the variety of business models being developed, the clear message for new entrants is that imagination, and a bold vision, could well be the key to success.”
Dr Rachel Creaney, social researcher in the NEWBIE project at the James Hutton Institute, said: “New entrants to farming can face a large number of barriers to start and establish themselves with successful farming businesses. Chris and all of the other finalists showed a great deal of innovation in how they have used their previous skills and taken on new opportunities to carve out successful farm businesses”.
Award winners from partnering European countries will be encouraged to share their experiences through the final conference and other networking opportunities provided by the NEWBIE project. For more information about NEWBIE, see www.newbie-academy.eu.