How deer safaris for tourists have helped this Northumberland farm gain national recognition
A Northumberland farm has received national recognition after reintroducing red deer and running unique safari tours for visitors.
Ingram Valley Farm has been named runner-up in the best rural diversification project category at this year’s Rural Business Awards.
The farm, run by Rebecca Wilson alongside her husband Ross and father-in-law Johnny, reintroduced red deer to the valley in 2019, where they first roamed 10,000 years ago.
They invested in new handling facilities and now have more than 150 red deer on the farm, as well as 1,400 sheep, 1,500 prime lambs and 100 cattle.
As people became more interested in the project, Ingram Valley Farm launched its deer safaris to give people the opportunity to see the animals up close.
Visitors can now board the Ingram Valley Farm Tractor and Trailer Express where they are invited to take a step back in time to hear about the history of the site and learn more about the sustainable farming methods used.
Although not currently running under government Covid restrictions, tours are scheduled to return from June 22.
Rebecca said: “The diversification at Ingram Valley Farm has been an evolving project. We began by reintroducing red deer, supported by the LEADER scheme which offers funding to rural development projects, and then launched our website to sell high-quality venison, beef and lamb.
“We then found that people were really interested in our deer and wanted to see them up close, so we began offering our deer safaris.
“All of this is alongside our work around sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint, demonstrating our commitment to operating a sustainable farming-system that can thrive in the years ahead to create jobs, help the rural economy and meet consumer demand.
“We’re thrilled to be selected as runners-up in the Best Rural Diversification Project category at this year’s Rural Business Awards.”
The awards were held online but they have struck up a friendship with Accessible Holiday Escapes which won the best rural start-up business category.
“They’ve actually supported us in making our safaris more accessible, so we’re now able to give those in wheelchairs the opportunity to visit areas of the farm they never have before, which is fantastic,” said Rebecca.
They have also received a grant to create a bunkhouse to provide overnight accommodation.