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Stackyard News Oct 07

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Plumgarths Hub Reaps Farmer of the Year Award

Cumbrian farmer John Geldard received the coveted Farmer of the Year Award at last night’s Farmers’ Weekly Awards, attended by HRH Countess of Wessex, for his pioneering creation of Plumgarths Hub.

Plumgarths Farm Shop

Plumgarths Farm Shop

The forward-thinking farmer was commended for the outstanding contribution he has made to the industry by reconnecting farmers with end consumers, creating a perfect working model for the future of British farming.

Plumgarths Hub, a project that brings together local farmer’s produce, providing a sustainable route to market, was established in 2001. John Geldard had begun to notice that consumers’ interest in the origins of their food was growing, along with a nationwide desire to reduce food miles. He recognised that the farming community held the answer but that they needed to be more proactive in marketing themselves to the British public, directly providing them with locally sourced food.

The Hub’s main aim was to reconnect the food chain by linking small specialist food producers and provide them with a route to a major supermarket. In 2002 Asda became the first supermarket to stock the Hub’s produce, a venture that proved so popular it was adopted by the store in 14 other regions. Before long, other supermarket chains followed suit launching regional brand initiatives that featured direct farmer supply.

By providing a sustainable route to market for local produce, Plumgarths Hub benefits local farmers and satisfies the consumers’ demands for high quality local products. The Hub also helps to reduce food miles, an issue which was pushed to the top of the Government’s agenda last week following reports that almost a third more food was flown into Britain last year than it was in 2005.

Sheila Dillon, Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme, said, “John is changing food distribution and production in the UK. He's worked out a way to put farmers back in the driving seat of the food system, showing them how to deal with supermarkets as equals. He's an inspiration."

By making consumers more aware of the array of local produce that is available to them and in turn reducing food miles, ventures like Plumgarths Hub hold the key to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly future for the British farming and food industries.

It was John Geldard’s forward thinking and insight in this area that first brought him to the attention of the Farmers Weekly judges. They commended his clear vision, knowledge of the market and consumer behaviour, as well as his awareness of the need to network within the farming industry and in turn market the industry to consumers.

John’s vision has benefited both his business and those of the other farmers and producers involved in the Hub, all of who share the added value that their branding generates. With the demand for locally produced, fully-traceable food increasing and the need to reduce food miles a necessity, projects like Plumgarths Hub are leading the way in the race to create a fully sustainable rural economy.

link Plumgarths Asda Local Sourcing Initiative Lead
link Demand Encourages More Woodland Free Range Egg Producers
link Field-to-Plate Cutting Down on Food Miles

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