ENTRIES are coming in for the Three Counties Farming Awards, which were officially launched this month.

They aim to celebrate the achievements of the industry in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Categories include sheep, cattle, pig, poultry, fruit/hop and arable farmer of the year, as well as young farmer, farming contractor and farming hero.

Awards will also be presented for the best family-run farm and best farm exhibiting sustainability and diversification.

An early nomination in the Sustainable/Diversification category is for Churchfields Farm at Salwarpe, Droitwich.

The family farm was forced to re-assess its plans in the wake of the foot and mouth disaster in 2004.

It decided to make use of its dairy expertise and diversify into ice cream production.

Farmer's daughter Gillian Kerton, who is now a partner in the business, said: "We did look into cheese production, by my dad was quite impatient, and if he had had to wait for cheese to mature before we could sell it he would have driven us insane! Ice cream is great as you can make it one day and sell it the next."

As well as its award-winning ice creams, the farm has the sole rights to Droitwich Salt. It collects the natural brine from Droitwich and gently crystallises it using renewable energy.

That energy is park of Churchfields' commitment to sustainability. Its 120kw solar panel system reduced its carbon footprint by 38.5 tonnes in its first nine months, and five oil-fired boilers were replaced with a biomass woodchip burner.

The Three Counties Farming Awards are being organised by Newsquest Media, publisher of the Three Counties Farmer, and its sister newspapers and websites the Worcester News, Hereford Times, Malvern Gazette, Ledbury Reporter, Evesham and Cotswold Journal, Tenbury Wells Advertiser, Kidderminster Shuttle, Redditch Advertiser, Bromsgrove Advertiser, Droitwich Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Gloucestershire Gazette and Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard.

They are supported by headline sponsor Harper Adams University, as well as the Countryside Restoration Trust and Western Power Distribution.

The award winners will be named at a gala dinner at the Three Counties Showground on Thursday, June 13, the eve of the Royal Three Counties Show. Money raised there will go to farming charity the Addington Fund, which helps find homes for farming families who have had to leave the industry.

Visit www.herefordtimes.com/awards/tcf/ to find out more and submit a nomination for the awards.