Suffolk: Food Hall scoops prestigious ‘Rural Oscar’ in national awards

THE Suffolk Food Hall, which brings a host of the county’s best producers under one roof, has won a prestigious ‘Rural Oscar’ in the national Countryside Alliance Awards.

The food hall, based at Wherstead near Ipswich, took Local Food crown at a special reception at Parliament - meaning it is now considered to be the best of its kind in the UK and Ireland.

The venture was set up by farming cousins frustrated at the lack of outlets for the produce on offer in Suffolk.

Owner Oliver Paul and butcher Gerard King were in London to hear the announcement.

Countryside Alliance Chairman Kate Hoey MP praised the food hall’s work.

Describing it, she said: “A business run with a zeal for produce, the surrounding community and the future of farming. 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 which now houses something of a collective for local producers. The produce from the owners’ farm is sold alongside that of a huge range of local producers and the set up also houses a restaurant, butcher, caf�, fishmongers, deli and garden centre.

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“The enterprise has drawn together the best of the local area, producers have a fair outlet and customers are served by people who know what they are talking about because they have made it.

“Here is a great example of the local farming community really pulling together not just to survive but to thrive. The local judge observed that the East of England is not just a big prairie producing thousands of tonnes of cereals. With such quality on display here we are inclined to agree.”

The Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’, have been running for seven years and were set up to celebrate the characters, produce, traditions and enterprise of the countryside through the people who work so hard to make it tick.