Stallholders out to impress as awards judge visits Barnard Castle Farmers' Market
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
STALLHOLDERS at Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market were out to impress last weekend when judging took place for a national awards scheme.
The monthly event has been shortlisted in the best farmers’ market category in the Farm Retail Association Awards.
Barney is up against farmers’ markets from Moseley, in Birmingham, Malvern, in Worcestershire, and Winchester, in Hampshire
Judge Andrew Burton travelled up from his home in Worcestershire to cast an eye over proceedings on a chilly Saturday morning having previously visited the other three finalists. Mr Burton said: “I try to judge them on their own merits.
“A lot of it is about interaction and the local community. Other criteria include safe shopping and it is really about the mix of products and the stallholders themselves.
“Farmers’ markets have to be based on local food so it’s been really important to look at that and I think Barnard Castle market has put on a really good show for the day,” he added.
Normally, Barnard Castle’s February market would be held indoors at The Witham, however, with the arts centre closed, a good number of stalls were back out on the cobbles.
Mr Burton said the farmers’ markets he had visited for the awards had all made a positive impact.
“It is a two-way thing – farmers’ markets help the community and the community helps the farmers’ markets.”
Winners of the farm retail awards will be announced at the beginning of March – just before the next Barnard Castle farmers’ market.
In all, there are 19 finalists for six awards in total. In addition to the market of the year, awards are being made to the Rising Star (newcomers to the industry); Large Farm Shop of the Year (turnover over £1.5m); Small Farm Shop of the Year (turnover under £1.5m); Farm Café/Restaurant of the Year; and Supplier Member of the Year.
Awards chairman Rob Copley said: “This year especially, farmers’ markets have helped to keep the nation fed, offering easy access to fresh, nutritious and affordable British food. Supporting local farmers and local jobs, farmers’ markets are at the beating heart of communities across the country. We hope customers keep coming back to support them and local farmers for years to come.”