Wherstead: Suffolk Food Hall scoops Countryside Alliance’s Local Food Champion of Champions title
- Credit: Archant
A farm shop at Wherstead, near Ipswich, has beaten competition from across the UK and Ireland to clinch a special 10th anniversary Countryside Alliance Award Champion of Champions prize.
Suffolk Food Hall topped a national poll, voted for by the public, and owner Oliver Paul was at Parliament on today to receive the Local Food Champion of Champions award from Environment Secretary Liz Truss.
The store first won the UK & Ireland Local Food title in 2011, qualifying Oliver to compete in the 10th anniversary Champion of Champions poll. All former UK & Ireland title holders competed, the winners were voted for in a public vote and more than 35,000 votes were polled.
The awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage.
Ms Truss said: “I’m especially passionate about increasing the opportunity at every level to choose healthy, seasonal, local produce. That’s why we back the Local Food award and this year’s winner, Oliver Paul from Suffolk Food Hall, is doing fantastic work encouraging more people to eat locally and support our farmers.
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“We’re also unlocking the huge potential for growth in the countryside through supporting rural businesses, better transport links and speedier broadband, so that more entrepreneurs can make the most of every opportunity available to them.”
Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner told the reception: “Farming is the backbone of the countryside and this category celebrates the whole journey from field to fork. Here we have some outstanding Champions who go the extra mile for animal welfare, good husbandry, taste and, of course, listening to exactly what their customers want.
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“This was always going to be a close-run category and votes came in thick and fast, but I am delighted to award the special Local Food Champion of Champions plaque to the team from Suffolk Food Hall. Set up by farmers for farmers, all the produce is sourced from as near to the enterprise as possible. The shop is a converted cattle shed where produce from the owners’ farm is sold alongside that of a huge range of local producers. Suffolk Food Hall also houses a restaurant, butcher, bakery, wine merchant, café, fishmongers, deli and garden centre.”