Four local producers for Marks & Spencer have been rewarded for their excellence in farming at a M&S ‘Farming for the Future’ Awards presentation, which took place at the Balmoral Show.
The winners were:
· Innovation Award – Tom Forgrave from Ballymoney, Co. Antrim
· Outstanding Producer Award – Larry Nugent from Tassagh , Co. Armagh
· Contribution to Rural Communities Award (Prince’s Trust Countryside Fund) – Crosby Cleland from Saintfield, Co. Down
· Young Producer Award – William Gilpin from Loughgall, Co. Armagh
Gilfresh Produce was established more than 50 years ago by the Gilpin family. Initially the business grew and packed whole head vegetables for local markets but, over the years, the business has been developed to supply multiple retailers and food service providers. Currently, the business produces loose and retail-packed carrots and other vegetables for use as ingredients by Avondale for M&S.
Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries at M&S said: “The Farming for the Future awards are now in their ninth year, acknowledging the dedication and commitment our farmers and growers are making towards Plan A and sharing best practice amongst the agricultural community across Ireland and the UK.”
“We have four very worthy winners and they have proved this by demonstrating their innovative thinking, commercial success and social responsibility in the way they manage and execute their businesses.”
Judges were particularly impressed with William’s can-do attitude, Strategic planning and delivery and attention to staff empowerment and commitment to staff development.