Rural Business Awards Recognise Excellence
Date of Article
Jul 16 2009

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The Crown Estate's Rural Business Award 2009 has been won by Nick and Chris Hobson who farm on The Crown Estate’s Derwent Estate in Yorkshire, which is managed by Carter Jonas.


Brothers Nick and Chris Hobson’s family have farmed at Woodhouse Grange Farm at Sutton upon Derwent since the 1930s, with Nick Hobson succeeding his father’s tenancy in 2001. The well-established roots of the Hobson family at Derwent also extend to the Woodhouse Grange Cricket Club, which was created by Nick and Chris’s grandfather for the 80 or so men who worked his farm.

The farming business trades as TH Hobson Limited and is run by both brothers. They have developed a strong and sustainable business mix focusing on arable, dairy and commercial enterprises. 

The core business is agriculture based with 300 milking cows, 121 hectares (300 acres) of potatoes grown on contract, with storage for 3000 tonnes. Together with cereals of approximately 300 hectares (741 acres), the brothers farm a total of just over 1000 hectares (2471 acres).

The Hobsons have also diversified their business with the help of The Crown Estate by converting redundant traditional farm buildings into office space. Features of the offices include heat exchange cooling/heating, solar panels and rain water harvesting.

The forward thinking nature of Nick and Chris has led them to consider the potential behind constructing an anaerobic digestion plant. This would concentrate on utilising the effluent from the dairy and low quality grass through a combined heat and power plant in order to export electricity to the National Grid.

The applicants are currently involved in a number of environmental schemes and both Nick and Chris have been working closely with Natural England and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) to work on ensuring the regeneration of the Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) land, producing a buffer between the arable and historic grassland, create habitats for wading birds, heath land birds and the grey partridge.

The Hobson family have a high standing within the local community. This was evidenced in their willingness to agree to surrender of part of a field in order to enlarge the Sutton upon Derwent Junior School football pitch and to work together with The Crown Estate to provide land for the Scouts Centenary Woodland.

Andrew Fallows, a Partner in Carter Jonas' York office, commented: " I am very pleased for the Hobsons, who have worked exceptionally hard to win this prestigious award, which recognises their business skills and their ability to seek diverse income streams. This is an example of tenants and landlords working together on a commercial basis for mutual reward."

The judges – Chris Bourchier, Director of the Rural Estate at The Crown Estate and David Fursdon, non-executive Board member of The Crown Estate – commented: “Nick and Chris Hobson embrace modern farming techniques which are complemented by their forward thinking business acumen. Through adding value to the already varied enterprise mix, they are well placed for weathering the current economic uncertainty and fluctuating commodity prices.