Awards Highlight Wide Range Of Food And Farming Talent

Increasing diversification across the island’s farmers, food and fishing producers was praised at an annual awards ceremony held at Knockaloe on Friday.

Agriculture Minister Geoffrey Boot MHK presented the Isle of Man Food, Farming and Fishing Awards and spoke of the importance of innovation and growth across all parts of the sector, as it continues its important contribution to both the island’s economy and its environment.

Since the launch of the government’s Food Matters Strategy in 2014 the island’s food sector has grown from £75 million per annum to £99.9 million and 680 new jobs have been created.

Mr Boot said: ‘This year we can clearly see that those who will continue to do well will be those who are always looking ahead, understanding the changing trends in the marketplace and responding to them. The range of winners is also ample evidence of just how variable and diversified this sector has become, and how many opportunities that diversification brings about.

‘All the winners, and indeed all those who entered the Awards, are ample proof of just how innovative, forward-looking and varied our food, farm and fishing businesses truly are.’

Stuart Allanson, from Rhendoo Farm, Jurby, won the Farming category.

Stuart looks after his 300 acre arable unit and keeps an eye on all aspects of the farm, not just the crops. He produces a large range of vegetables and is the largest vegetable producer in the island.

Will Faulds and Charlotte Traynor, of the Apple Orphanage, won the Food/Drink category. Will and Charlotte have been making cider, wine and apple juice for 10 years, running an ‘exchange your fruit for juices or cider’ which encourages people to bring them their surplus apples and rhubarb. They keep things as natural as possible and chemical free.

Chris Clugson, of Kallow Point Seafoods, won the Fishing category, a new award for this year. Chris runs a small family business selling fresh Manx crab, lobster and fish, both fresh and smoked, in Port St Mary, catching and preparing everything himself.

There were joint winners of the Diversification category: Mike Walker and Clare Lewis, of Isle of Man Goats & Manx Mohair, and Will and Janette Qualtrough, of BallaKarran meat company.

Mike and Clare come from generations of farmers and are now responsible for the care of more than 260 goats, the largest commercial herd in the Isle of Man.

Will and Jeanette farm over 400 acres where they produce and sell their pasture fed lamb direct from the farm. Their mobile unit travels around the island selling Manx meat and local produce.

The awards are sponsored and supported by Shoprite.

They were judged by John Lewis from Shoprite, alongside Geoffrey Boot MHK, Andrew Cooper, secretary of the Manx National Farmers’ Union, Jim Caley, president of the Royal Manx Show, Jo Overty, UNESCO Biosphere, David Beard, IOM Fisherman’s Association, and Andrew Lees, DEFA’s food business development manager.

Award-winners receive £100 and a glass trophy from Shoprite.

Mr Lewis said: ‘With such a diverse range of entries, and such a high standard as well, coming to a final judgement wasn’t easy. But after a great deal of thought and a lot of discussion we have picked what all the judges agree is a set of very worthy winners. Our congratulations go out to all of them. They are a testament to the range of quality across all our food, farming and fishing industries.’

The cream of the crop of the island’s farmers, food and fishing producers were recognised at the Isle of Man Food, Farming and Fishing Awards. Julie Blackburn reports on this year’s winners, which were announced at the Royal Manx Agricultural Show.

Source: IOM Today