2017 BALE Award Entries open - 12 July 2017

Call for entries for the region’s premier Farm Diversification Competition

The Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) in partnership with sponsors Ashton Legal solicitors is calling for entries for its prestigious Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) award, now in its 26th year.

Open to all farm businesses throughout Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex with buildings or land on their farms, the annual award is the only one of its type in the region and recognises and rewards imaginative and commercial alternative non-agricultural uses of the land and positive effects on the local economy. Previous winners have included a cheese making enterprise, log cabin holiday accommodation, a wedding and outdoor event venue, a farm shop, care home and a children’s nursery.

This year the judges are Jonathan Long, Partner and Head of Agriculture and Estates at Ashton Legal, The Earl of Iveagh, President of the SAA, and Wendy Houston, from last year’s winning enterprise, MPS Agri Ltd.  The judging will take place on 28 and 29 September.

The first prize is the Ashtons Challenge Cup and £2,000 of legal advice, the second prizewinner and the Best Newcomer both receive £1,000 of legal advice and there is a £500 legal health check for the Best “Green Practice,” all of whom will be announced during the Annual SAA Agricultural Awards dinner to be held at Trinity Park on Thursday 19th October 2017. All entrants receive two complimentary tickets to attend the event.

Wendy Houston, last year’s BALE Award winner said, “To be recognised amongst such a high level of entrants as winners was a huge boost to us both personally and professionally and more importantly, to all of our staff.  The competition highlights the industries tucked away in rural locations bringing innovation, employment and opportunities to our region and has raised our profile significantly.  The Award helped us to evaluate what we have achieved and has encouraged us to continue to look forward.”

Jonathan Long said: “Ashtons is delighted to be sponsoring the BALE Award once again this year and that it will be part of the annual agricultural awards dinner for the fifth year running, giving the Award the profile it deserves.

We have seen time and time again how bringing in professionals, such as solicitors, enables farmers and landowners to diversify and set up new and exciting ventures without taking anything away from their farming business. I am always astounded by the high quality and sheer variety of the entries we receive each year and look forward to this year’s judging process.”

Phillip Ainsworth, Chief Executive of the SAA said, “We are delighted to host this annual showcase of rural entrepreneurship.  The standard of entries is excellent with new and innovative ideas coming forward every year and we welcome both new and previous competitors to the competition."


Entries should complete the entry form which can be downloaded at: www.suffolkshow.co.uk/bale_awards, and send accompanied by a cheque for £20 per enterprise to Abi Southworth, SAA, Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich IP3 8UH. Please note all entrants must be members of the Association or apply for membership, at a cost of £60.00, at the time of entering. All entries must be received by Monday 11 September 2017.


For further press information contact Abi Southworth, 01473 707129 or abi.southworth@suffolkshow.co.uk



Ashton Legal employs 350 people in East Anglia and as such is one of the region’s largest and most prominent law firms. It has extensive geographic coverage, with offices in the main commercial centres along the A14 and A11 corridors – Cambridge, Norwich, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe and Thetford.

 The Suffolk Agricultural Association is a Charity formed in 1831. Its objectives are to raise awareness of food, farming and the countryside and its importance to the Suffolk economy and well-being. Each year it stages the Suffolk Show, an annual showcase of rural life, as well as delivering a range of education initiatives which encourage children and young people to find out more about food and farming and consider future careers in the sector. It also developed and runs the Trinity Park Conference and Event Centre at Trinity Park.