MBE for Thorney Farmer for Agriculture Services

Michael Sly MBE on his farm in Thorney.

Michael (53) has been a farmer for over 30 years and with the help of his team runs Park Farm in Thorney.

The price came as a shock, which at first made him think it was a prank from his office. Even now, Michael describes it as hard to believe but “in a good way”.

In his role as Chairman of England Mustard Growers, he worked to protect British mustard cultivation and spurred major growth in the UK sugar beet sector.

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In 2019 he worked with Unilever to ensure the production of mustard and mint for Colman’s in the UK. He played a central role in the formation of Condimentum mustard production, providing Unilever with a new facility for the grinding, processing and packaging of mustard and mint, at its historic home in Norwich. One of only three dry mustard grinders in the world.

Thanks to his perseverance, a grant was obtained and Unilever provided financial support and a ten-year contract with the producers, guaranteeing the long-term viability of the company.

Michael has also worked closely with the RSPB on a number of stewardship programs, such as the Thorney Bird Friendly Zone and with other farmers convincing them to dedicate more land to wildlife, to significantly improve biodiversity in the region.

He said: “The Fens, along with farmers in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, are still at the heart of English mustard production. There are 18 of us and we have managed to stabilize the crop, increase acreage and volume and in 2020, together with Norfolk mint growers, we have been involved in the construction of a new mustard mill just west of Norwich.

“I couldn’t have done the roles and the other jobs I did without the wonderful team that works for me at Park Farm. They are so dedicated to their work that it allowed me to go out and help these other projects.”

Park Farm is well known for hosting the annual Open Farm Sunday and Vintage Weekend, which has welcomed over 75,000 visitors since 2006. The event, which allows visitors to get involved and learn the importance of agriculture, returns this year on June 11 and 12.

As President of the Thorney Society, Michael will be hosting a grand Platinum Jubilee Barn Dance for the entire village this weekend, giving him the perfect opportunity to celebrate the honor as well.

He added: “The news of this came quite by chance. Sometimes life is all about opportunity and coincidence and in that case you just can’t make up how the planets lined up. So many people in the village will be there for a celebration which I will also enjoy.

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