A thriving Somerset farm shop and café has scooped the prestigious Local Food Farmer of the Year prize at the national 2009 Farmers Weekly Awards.
Steve and Heather Tucker of White Row Farm Shop, Beckington, Frome, joined more than 1000 people at the glittering awards dinner last week (8th October), where they learnt of their success. Held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London to celebrate the achievements of British farmers, the awards are the highlight of the food and farming year.
"We are absolutely delighted to have won this award - we are passionate about the food we produce and what we sell at White Row, and this has obviously come across to the judges," said Mr Tucker. The couple set up the business on their pig farm in 2000, following a downturn in the pig industry. It now includes a farm shop, café, deli, butchery, fish counter and a garden shop. "We took a huge gamble, but we have gone from strength to strength and haven’t looked back."
Crucially, throughout their expansion the Tuckers stuck to their original ethos of providing local, home-grown produce, as well as sourcing as much as possible from local producers. They are also keen to educate children about food and where it comes from, and are now supplying local schools with vegetables. "I’d like to open the farm up more to the public to show them what goes on, and to set up a commercial kitchen and cookery school where people can come and learn how to best use local produce," said Mr Tucker.
Pearce Hughes of Asda, which sponsored the highly competitive category, said: "The Local Farmer of the Year is a great accolade and Steve and Heather Tucker are worthy winners. Their passion for growing fresh produce and their plans to educate local children can never be underestimated."
The couple have enjoyed tremendous support from their loyal customer base, as well as their advisors and accountant Mike Butler at Old Mill Rural Services, who joined them at the awards ceremony. "I am thrilled that Steve and Heather have won this award, recognising the hard work and dedication that they both put into the business," he said. "They have transformed it from a struggling pig unit to a thriving shop and café, attracting more than 3000 visitors a week.
"By staying true to their roots with local, fresh, home-grown food, they have ensured the success of their business, which is bucking the economic trend with growth of 20% this year, and provides employment for 45 local people. Their pride and passion is a real inspiration, and I am delighted to have played a small part in helping these true ambassadors for local food."
To learn more about White Row Farm Shop see www.whiterowcountryfoods.co.uk or visit the farm, located just off the A361 near Beckington, Frome.