Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Countryside-based food producers are declared winners at Rural Business Awards

Two farm shops and a third generation fruit grower have been declared the British countryside’s best food and drink producers.

It happened at Thursday at the Rural Business Awards, which is the UK’s only dedicated national business awards for the rural community, operated in partnership with the CLA and actively supported by the countryside sector as well as MPs across the UK.

The Rural Business Awards are sponsored by Janine Edwards Wealth Management Ltd, Principal Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management.

At a glittering ceremony held at The Belfry Hotel & Resort in the Midlands on October 13, Yorkshire's Keelham Farm Shop was named the awards’ Best Food & Drink Business in the UK. With a winner, runner-up and highly commended in each sector of the awards, Starkey’s Fruit in Nottinghamshire came second with runner-up, while Gloucestershire's Jolly Nice farm shop came third with a  very well-deserved Highly Commended.

Keelham Farm Shop is a family business that sells and celebrates great tasting food. Based in Skipton, Yorkshire, it supports local producers and farmers and makes a difference to the local community by providing jobs and supporting community work.

The shop runs an innovative Veg Exchange Scheme and a weekly shopper-hopper which picks people up from local communities, giving people without their own transport access to fresh, affordable food.

A delighted James Robertshaw, who is the co-owner of Keelham Farm Shop, said: "The whole Keelham team are thrilled that we’ve won such a fantastic award which understands and celebrates rural businesses like ours.

"It’s the relationships we’ve built up with over 400 local farmers and producers over three generations of Robertshaws, that allow us to deliver affordable fresh food to around 19,000 customers a week.

"Yorkshire is a county of riches when it comes to farming and land-based business, and it’s really exciting that together we are helping to put Yorkshire on the national foodie map."

At Nottinghamshire's Norwood Park, three generations of the Starkey family have been growing fruit since 1910.

Today the farm is a major fruit grower, producing some 400 tons of strawberries and 50 tons of blackberries this year.

The farm, which is resplendent with many ancient oak trees and apple orchards, is home to several species of native birds,such as woodpeckers, nuthatch, owls and goldfinch.

There are also a range of different butterflies, too.

And the family is not content to rest on its laurels. For it has introduced an innovative new drinking pouch which comes complete with  a built-in straw.

It is aimed at bringing the farm’s Bramley apple juice to a whole new market of school children.

Suzannah Starkey said, after receiving her two awards for Starkey’s Fruit, “I’m totally thrilled. I think it’s the most brilliant scheme to support rural businesses. With our pouches we are trying something that didn’t exist before, we’ve taken it on and it’s massively exciting – and now we’ve been recognised for that and we’re chuffed to bits!”

Jolly Nice is a family run, sustainable local farm shop and take away café in rural Gloucestershire, using local suppliers and fast gaining a reputation for Harriet’s Jolly Nice ice cream.

The family has been farming the land since 1928 when Harriet’s great-grandfather started milking Shorthorn cows there.

Jolly Nice chefs Sarah Parker and Emily Forster collected their awards on behalf of owners Simon and Rebecca Wilson, who they said were “thrilled” to get the recognition in both categories of the awards.

Sarah said: “The business started from a tiny, tiny company – Rebecca’s daughter with her ice cream – and it’s grown. We’re really happy that the business is getting to be recognised because it has grown from nothing.”

Rural Business Awards co-founder Jemma Clifford said: “Our food and drink category is a very important one in our awards, as here we can often see how rural businesses have the opportunity to excel over their urban neighbours by using the rich produce available on their doorstep. In this category we were looking for food businesses which were using local, fresh ingredients and turning that into successful enterprises which celebrated the rural way of life.

“Our entries certainly didn’t disappoint. Our winner, Keelham Farm Shop in Yorkshire, simply ticked every box. This was a wonderfully strong candidate which both supported local food producers and offered some really innovative, practical solutions to help local people access fresh locally grown food.

“When we saw the work of Starkey’s Fruit in Nottinghamshire, we loved the way the business’s new juice pouch was delivering authentic Bramley juice to a wide market. We found it quite simply an elegant piece of eco-innovation, which simply and impressively delivered a sustainable business promise. Starkey’s is a very well established and well-known brand which is still growing English fruit and delivering it to the marketplace.

“And our highly commended firm, Jolly Nice is a first rate rural business and a fantastic start-up. Jolly Nice has a very high positive impact on the local community, one of our key judging criteria, and we felt the quality of the home-grown food, not to mention Harriet’s Jolly Nice ice cream, made it a very worthy highly commended.”

Aimed at organisations based in the countryside, the Rural Business Awards recognise excellence in a range of different business categories, from innovation through to employment. Now in their second year, the awards were the brainchild of Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford, who believe that rural enterprises are often overlooked by other business prize-giving schemes based in urban areas. The award scheme has been praised by MPs including Nicky Morgan and Andrew Bridgen, both of whom have lent their support to the successful initiative.

CLA Director General Helen Woolley said: “I am delighted to have been a part of the judging panel and to see first-hand the passion for rural business demonstrated by all the finalists. There were some outstanding entries and my congratulations go to all the winners, every award is truly deserved.”

Rural Business Awards sponsor, Janine Edwards of Janine Edwards Wealth Management, Principal Partner of St James’s Place Wealth Management says: "The Rural Business Awards has seen a number of commendable and outstanding finalists. It has been a pleasure for my team and I to be involved in the whole process, and we are delighted to see that each and every winner has achieved the recognition they deserve. It is a huge accomplishment for all of the finalists to be involved in such a high-profile event and I’d like to congratulate them all on their success now and in the future!”

Entries for the 2017 Rural Business Awards open on November 1 – so any rural business that feels they deserve recognition for their achievements is strongly advised to get in touch! For more information visit: Find out more via social media on:
T: @RuralRBAs
F: The Rural Business Awards

Keep up with the Twitter chatter and use #RBAs.
The full category list:
1.      Best Rural Start-up
2.      Outstanding Rural Diversification Project
3.      Best Rural Apparel Business
4.      Rural Innovation of the year
5.      Best Rural Manufacturing Business
6.      Best Rural Professional Services Business
7.      Best Rural Creative or media based business
8.      Social enterprise / community project of the year
9.      Best Rural Tourism Business
10.  Best Rural Sporting Business
11.  Rural Employer of the year
12.  Rural Entrepreneur of the year
13.  Best Food & Drink Business

That's Food and Drink would like to offer its hearty congratulations to all the winners.

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