WILTSHIRE farmer Tim Barton has been named as a finalist in the British Farming Awards on a list published today.

Mr Barton, who runs Wadswick Country Store at Manor Farm, Corsham, has been named in the category for diversification innovator of the year.

Wadswick Country Store was started in the late 1980s by Mr Barton and his wife Carolyn. Mr Barton said: "It is based on an arable farm our first product line was homegrown potatoes, planted and harvested by all members of the family.

"At the time, the farm was an agricultural contracting business and a reasonably large flock of sheep were the main focus.

"Potatoes were sold by way of a wired up old car horn. If no one was available to take the money then an honesty box prevailed.

"Customers began to ask for the odd bag of oats for their horses and mixed corn for their chickens and before long a fledgling feed business emerged selling homegrown crops.

"Carolyn soon realised that staying in the shop was warmer than lambing sheep throughout the winter so when a small equestrian shop closed down locally she grabbed the opportunity to buy its stock and expand the offering at Wadswick."

They then moved into the equestrian industry. In 2000 a big new barn was built and this is now being expanded and a cafe added.

A spokesman for the awards said: "Fifty-six farmers and growers will now battle it out for the 14 categories up for grabs which highlight the diversity of UK agriculture.

"Alongside farming’s core sectors including dairy, beef, sheep, arable and contractor there is also a celebration of new entrants coming into the industry, the wealth of diversification businesses and family farms and the acknowledgement of an evolving digital presence within farming.

"New to this year is Agri-Tech Innovator of the Year, bringing together farmers researchers and tech developers to accelerate innovation and production."

The awards are organised by AgriBriefing, parent company of Farmers Guardian, Arable Farming and Dairy Farmer, the British Farming Awards is supported by Morrisons.

Now entering its 7th year, the British Farming Awards has become a nationally recognised event which has celebrated, showcased and rewarded hundreds of British food and drink producers doing fantastic work across the sector.

Last year, the event welcomed more than 700 farmers and industry professionals to the National Conference in Birmingham, which will once again play host to this year’s evening taking place on October, 17.

A further two awards – Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture and Farmers Guardian Farming Hero – will be announced during the awards evening.

Ben Briggs, Editor of Farmers Guardian, said: “Our categories recognise how British farmers have successfully introduced innovation to drive their business forward, despite ever increasing challenges.

“From the smallest businesses to the larger units and from start-ups to those which are long established, the British Farming Awards is a reflection of the diversity, innovation and strength of spirit across our industry."

For full information on finalists visit www.britishfarmingawards.co.uk