The Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, John Griffiths AM, presented the Countryside Alliance Awards (aka “Rural Oscars”) to the cream of Welsh rural enterprise at The Senedd, on Wednesday 30th January.
The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses.
The Welsh champions were presented with red plaques by the Minister at the prestigious event, which was sponsored by Deputy Presiding Officer David Melding AM. The lucky winners will go on to represent Wales at the UK & Ireland finals at Parliament in Westminster on 13th March.
The Minister for Environment and Sustainability, John Griffiths AM, commented: “There are challenges facing the food industry and it is now more important than ever that we buy locally grown food and drink to support the local economy and keep people in jobs. The Welsh Government is working on ways to help the public to identify products of the highest quality and to try and encourage them to buy different foods and drinks. The awards tonight are an excellent marketing tool for food and drinks producers”
The Countryside Alliance’s Director for Wales, Rachel Evans, introduced the delighted Champions with the following citations:
Butcher winner – William Lloyd Williams & Son, Machynlleth
From “Grass to Gravy”……. When the outbreak of foot and mouth disease put a stop to the local Christmas fat-stock market he decided to offer the premises for a carcass only competition so that the town did not lose this important producer’s event. It has continued over the years and has grown in to one of the most popular carcass shows in Wales, providing a showcase for local farmers and their produce. With an abattoir situated out the back, This really is low food miles.
He is past president and now Policy Director for The National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, and was awarded an MBE for his services to the meat industry.
2nd – Steve James, Hawardens Farm Shop Butchery
3rd – Woollacott’s Butchers, Swansea
Village Shop & Post Office winner – Henllan Village Shop – Vanessa Griffiths
Not just a village shop and post office – the adjoining building has been turned into a tearoom which was warmly welcomed by locals as a meeting point. This shop continues to thrive – and we can see why! I challenge you to visit this shop and NOT find a brand you are looking for! You will find a wide choice of local produce, meats, bread, cakes, desserts, fruit and vegetables, hen, duck, goose and quails eggs, crab and lobster, pate, game meat when in season, welsh butter, shop made sandwiches, quiche and ready meals, wood for the fire even and MUCH more. And at Christmas you can order turkeys, ducks, geese and the shops very own glazed ham. Nothing is too much trouble for Vanessa where the satisfaction of her customers and the community is concerned.
Local Food winner – Hootons Home Grown
Hootons home grown has evolved from a roadside “pick your own” field with a small table as the “shop” to the multi-faceted business it is today. Hootons really are a shining example of a farm shop that really does have “local food” so much so in fact that many items are labelled “no food miles”! All the meat for the butchery is reared on the farm as well as vegetables and fruit with surplus being made use of in either ready meals, pies or preserves. For the Hootons family the journey so far has evolved from many years of experimenting, hard work and a love of growing.
Joint 2nd, Glanbrydan The Cottage Bake-House, Llandeilo and The Old Stables tea Rooms, Hay On Wye
3rd – Dairy Dreams, Newtown
Rural Enterprise winner – Justin Scale, Capestone Organic Poultry Ltd
In 1826 the Scale Family arrived at Capestone Farm. In the early 1920s, they established the selling of Christmas turkeys. When Justin Scale (the 5th generation of the family,) took over management 14 years ago, his drive and ambition led to the initial sale of 200 Christmas Turkeys to the Marks & Spencers store in Carmarthen. Today the Scale family produce over 10,000 chickens a week and supply M&S with all of its Organic Chicken Range, as well as 65,000 organic free-range Turkeys at Christmas. A recent launch of their very own brand for Capestone has seen their products on the shelves of London food halls. And there are greater plans afoot with the production in 2013 of Baby Food and negotiations with an American retailer.
2nd Rhos On Sea Country Market
3rd The Farmers Arms, Llanybri
Business Start-Up winner – The Gower Brewery Ltd
This remarkable brewery nestled away on beautiful Gower was set up against financial barriers in a time of economic recession. Events moved quickly, the idea came forward in August 2011 and the first brew took place on the 11/11/11. Producing high quality locally produced real ales has proved to be a winner for by 2012 they had sold over 30,000 bottles. Demand is increasing and core ales such as Gower Power and Lighthouse Lager have exceeded all expectations. There is no waste either as leftover grain is used to feed local sheep. Their lamb is then in turn purchased for the two public houses that are associated with two of the company Directors. Now that’s recycling!
2nd – Miranda Bowen Animal Portrait Artist and Lili Wen Textiles, Carmarthen
3rd – Lady of The Lake Lamb, Myddfai, Llandovery