Jonty Brunyee - Making the most of Environmental Assets - Sustainable Enterprise on Farms with High Natural Value
The Brunyee clan have been farming since we arrived from Holland to help drain the Fens in the 1620s.
I have been a National Trust farm tenant for 10 years now on the Sherborne Park Estate in the Cotswolds. I still feel like a novice! Thankfully, we (that’s me, my wife Mel, and the three children) have recently secured another 20 year tenancy so it’s now time to plan and grow into our farming future.
We aim to build a successful business that makes the most from all our assets. Not just our financial and physical assets (the norm) but our natural and social assets too. Our business model focuses on the environment (species rich limestone grassland restoration; and habitat for farmland birds and pollinators), added value produce (organic; Pasture Fed; rare breed beef, lamb and pork), and diversification (education, farm consultancy and DIY livery). I am also a Senior Lecturer at the Royal Agricultural University in the School of Business and Entrepreneurship.
There is more to do. I am always on the look-out for new ideas and inspiration.
Four years ago I attended the annual Nuffield Farming Conference where I listened in awe to the presentations made by the returning scholars. The diversity of the subjects studied, and the enthusiasm and supportive nature shown by the Nuffield network, made a big impression. I applied for a scholarship a year later but was not successful. I gave it another go this year and worked much harder on my proposal, application and interview. I was shocked and proud when I heard that I had been awarded the first National Trust award.
I intend to travel to meet farmers and rural entrepreneurs around the world (USA, China, France, Ireland, Eastern Europe and the UK for starters) that truly value their natural assets and have built thriving sustainable and regenerative businesses drawing on their high quality environment. This will include integrated food, agri-tourism and environmental enterprises.
I will learn from their approaches, gain new ideas and face many unexpected challenges along the way. The Nuffield journey will benefit me as a person, our farm business, my students and the wider industry including, hopefully, fellow NT tenants.