A FARM-based nursery has been named the nation's best rural education business at a national rural business awards.

Mini Explorers Nursey, in Little Holtby, near Bedale, picked up the accolade at the 2019 Rural Business Awards at a ceremony at Chateau Impney in Worcestershire.

TV presenter Jules Acton handed over the gong, which saw Mini Explorers beat off competition from five other UK finalists. T

Mini Explorers’ owner Steph Pybus says that the win in the Best Rural Education or Training Business category was the icing on the cake in what continues to be an extremely exciting time for the nursery.

She said: “We won the regional round of the competition back in October.

“But we had no idea how we’d fare at the national finals as the category was so broad.

"We weren’t just up against other nursery schools, but rural training centres, agricultural assessment centres and a raft of outdoor learning facilities; we didn’t think our little farm school stood a chance!

“The win is testament to the quality of the education we’re providing at Mini Explorers, as well as the innovative approach we’ve taken to early years education. We’re the first Farm School Nursery in the country, but we believe passionately in what we’re doing and in the importance of opening up the farming world to youngsters and babies.

"Our children learn to bottle feed lambs and calves, plant and pick their own fruit and vegetables and they spend their days racing around our family farm in North Yorkshire.”

Mrs Pybus says that the win has come at a particularly important time in Mini Explorers’ journey.

The nursery, which opened its doors in 2012, is about to launch its own café The Nest, to allow the children to share their farm produce with other local families.