It’s the official launch of this year’s Hampshire Farmers’ Markets Producer Awards at Hambledon Vineyard on Friday, July 8th.
The awards ceremony will place on Thursday, 22nd September at the Brookfield Hotel in Emsworth. They will again run as part of the celebrations surrounding British Food Fortnight from 17th September to 2nd October.
Now in their seventh year, these are the only food awards in the county where the outcome is entirely down to the public vote. “The awards give our market visitors the chance to vote for their favourite products and producers,” commented Alex Handford, HFM Business Manager. “So many of our visitors comment on how much they enjoy their market shopping experience because they get to talk directly to the local producers, have the assurance of knowing where the food comes from and that each producer has to meet a very strict criteria to sell their produce at our markets.”
The 2016 awards will be hosted by guest presenter Andy Mackenzie, Executive Chef at the Exclusive Chefs Academy in Hampshire. Following a celebration dinner for the nominees and winners, Andy will hand out the trophies to the producers coming out top in the following categories:
- Best Food Product
- Best Drinks Producer
- Best Hot Food to Take Away
- Best Personality
- Best Food Initiative (The only award to be decided by the HFM board of directors)
Last year’s winners, as voted for by the public, include Ambrose Sausages, who won Best Food Product, as well as Best Food Initiative. Sue Ambrose explains how it felt to gain such an accolade from their customers: “Winning gave a real sense of elation and excitement. Selling our produce at Hampshire Farmer’s Markets is the backbone of our business, so continued customer support is vital. The markets offer us an opportunity to showcase locally and gives customers a fantastic choice of fresh produce on their doorstep.”
Best Drinks Producer was won by Hill Farm Juice: “It meant a huge amount to all of the team at Hill Farm,” says owner Will Dobson. “The public’s recognition of our product is a great testament to the team and means much more than some of the industry-led awards. The fact that it’s our consumers voting without any input or persuasion increases the value of the award all the more.”
The other winners were Mike Smales of Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers, who took home the award for Best Personality and Botwell’s Farm Shop won Best Food to Take Away.
You can vote for your favourite producer in each category either at your local Hampshire Farmers’ Market on the voting forms provided or online at www.hampshirefarmersmarkets.co.uk. Voting closes on Monday, 7th September and market visitors voting forms will be entered into a prize draw for two tickets to the awards dinner.
Alex Handford commented: “Our awards are a great way for our producers to celebrate their achievements throughout the year and the appreciation they get from our market visitors. They’re are receiving more and more recognition as time goes on, so we’re going for bigger and better in 2016.”
Hampshire Farmers’ Markets runs a fortnightly market at Winchester, one of the largest in the country. There are also regular markets at Alton, Emsworth, Petersfield, Romsey, Ringwood and now Southampton and Odiham.