Britain's best farm shops
PUBLISHED: 13:03 13 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:07 05 April 2013
Shropshire's Ludlow Food Centre and Apley Farm Shop took the top accolades at <br/>a best of British awards
Shropshires Ludlow Food Centre and Apley Farm Shop took the top accolades at a best of British awards
It was a delicious double for Shropshire at the awards to celebrate the best farm shops in Britain.
Ludlow Food Centre led the way when it was crowned UK Farm Retailer of the Year 2013, the highest accolade in the industry. Meanwhile, Apley Farm Shop, located between Telford and Bridgnorth, took the Rising Star award.
The successes came at the FARMA Awards, run by the National Farmers Retail and Markets Association, which pitched the finest farm shops from all over the UK against each other. Presenting the awards in Harrogate was food hero and River Cottage star Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, who has been a member and patron of FARMA for many years.
Ludlow Food Centre managing director Edward Berry said: To win this award is the highest honour in our sector. It is testament to the passion and quality of our staff, the food they produce and the local food made by artisans in this region.
The Food Centre is one of very few ventures producing their own food on site. The eight glass-fronted production kitchens include a dairy, butchery, jam and pickle kitchen, bakery, coffee roasting room and ice-cream parlour. The centre has more than 80 local people on its staff, making it one of the largest employers in the area.
Mr Berry added: Our staff make us the business we are. It is because of their talent, commitment and the quality of their food that we have been able to reach such a high standard. We make more than half the food we sell using ingredients from our estate, Shropshire and its surrounding counties.
The Food Centre opened in 2007 and was a pioneer in the farm shop sector because of its commitment to sourcing locally and making food on the premises. In addition the centres beef, lamb and Gloucester Old Spot pork all come from its Oakly Park Estate, which surrounds Ludlow to the north. The focus on provenance is something the judges picked out as being an important part of the Food Centres success.
Mr Berry said: Shropshire is the most wonderful county for food. There are so many local producers that are committed to making excellent food and our job has always been to act as a local showcase.
Later this month, the new 140 cover Ludlow Kitchen cafe and restaurant will be unveiled on the site, boasting the best sourced menu in Britain because every plate of food will be made entirely using ingredients from the Food Centre.
Some 400,000 has been invested in the venture, which will include an outside patio garden. Food will be served from 9am to 9pm.
Meanwhile, staff at Apley Farm Shop joined in the celebrations when owner Lord Hamilton brought back the Rising Star award.
This is a remarkable achievement, said Gavin Hamilton, who founded the shop with wife Lady Harriet less than two years ago.
We are still a relatively new business and so it is extremely satisfying to win such a prestigious award. I am delighted that Ludlow Food Centre has been recognised as well. It shows that Shropshire is leading the way in retailing the best local food.
Apley Farm Shop is open daily and has a licensed caf and restaurant (The Creamery) and Piggs Playbarn for small visitors, plus the free Skylark Nature Trail. It also hosts weekly events.