Leamington-based farmer finalist for national farming award

Rob Fox at the Squab Hall Farm
Rob Fox at the Squab Hall Farm

A Leamington-based farmer has been shortlisted for a national farming award as farm manager of the year.

Rob Fox, who manages Squab Hall Farm near Bishop’s Tachbrook, was named a finalist in the farm manager of the year category in the Farmers Weekly awards.

Squab Hall Farm

Squab Hall Farm

The winners of the 14 categories are all announced during an awards night, which takes place at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on October 3. The other two farmers shortlisted come from Essex and Bedfordshire.

Rob said: “Being shortlisted is great. The Farmers Weekly awards are pretty big in our industry and being recognised by my peers for the job that I do and love is a great honour.”

In a drive for greater efficiency, Rob set up an arable joint venture with two other farms. He has also improved poorer land performance and shares his knowledge.

The awards, now in their 15th year, are judged by an expert panel made up of industry specialists and previous award winners. Farm Manager of the Year is one of 14 categories in the awards, which are sponsored by Agrovista.

If Rob win the Farm Manager of the Year title that puts him in the running for the overall Farmer of the Year Award, given to the farmer judged to be the “winner of winners”.

Squab Hall Farm, which is owned by T.I. Evans and Son, was originally a dairy farm and the Evans family have lived at Squab Hall since 1933.

Rob manages the 1,000- acre farm, which also includes Windmill Hill Farm at Chesterton where a scenic old windmill sits atop of a hill.

Rob added: “The family I work for here, the Evans family, have been very supportive and let me run the farm as I see fit. When I started I was just running the day-to-day operations and over the last nine years they have let me have more and more responsibility. I now run the farming business here in its entirety and also help with other management matters on our removals and storage business.”

Under his management Squab Hall Farm grows wheat, barley, oilseed rape and spring beans.

Rob added: “Every year is different and has different challenges to overcome in order to get a strong crop established and nurtured all the way through the growing season.

“Seeing something planted as a seed in the autumn or spring and then doing our best to look after the yield potential and seeing how we’ve done at harvest gives me a real sense of achievement, and no matter how good or bad the year has been we get to start all over again in September with a new crop.

“Looking after the crops as well as the wildlife around it is also hugely important and rewarding. Around 10 per cent of our land is not cropped and instead we plant food and wild flowers for the birds and insects in order to limit our impact on the environment.

“Seeing our flower margins in full flower or the wild birds feeding on the food strips also reassures us that we are looking after the farmed environment.”