Straid business in running for Soil Association Award

The tea room at Ballylagan Organic Farm in Straid has been shortlisted for the final of the 2014 Soil Association Organic Awards. INNT 36-457-CON

The tea room at Ballylagan Organic Farm in Straid has been shortlisted for the final of the 2014 Soil Association Organic Awards. INNT 36-457-CON

Ballylagan Organic Farm in Straid is seeking the support of the local community in the prestigious 2014 Soil Association Organic Awards.

Its tea room has been selected as a top ten finalist in the ‘Eating Out’ category.

The business now needs public support in the online vote that will decide the award winners.

Situated in the restored 19th century family farmhouse, the tea room at Ballylagan Organic Farm opened in November 2011.

A spokesperson said: “Our commitment to organic food has remained absolute since the farm converted in 1990 but the main driver of our business is to provide the very best quality for our customers.

“All of us at Ballylagan Organic Farm are delighted to be shortlisted for the 2014 Organic Awards and have our commitment to organic food recognised in this way.

“This is the first time anyone from Northern Ireland has been shortlisted, and win or not, we are very excited to have got this far.”

In 1990, the Gilbert family was one of the very first in Northern Ireland to convert their farm to organic production.

The farm shop was officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales, and in late 2011, the tea room and guest house, both serving only organic food, were opened.

Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association, said: “This year’s Organic Awards are so exciting – a wonderful opportunity for such a wide range of businesses to tell the public how they are organic champions and I am delighted that the public get to have the final say on the overall winners.

“The awards are therefore a great opportunity for not only the products and businesses themselves to be recognised and celebrated, but also the passion and creativity of the people behind them who care so much about what they do.”

This year, the Soil Association’s Organic Awards sees the inclusion of an online consumer vote, where the public will be able to vote for their favourites in each category throughout September .

Initial shortlisting for each category was undertaken by panel of well-respected and high profile judges including Radio 4’s Sheila Dillon; organic beauty brand founder and TV personality, Jo Wood; Liz Earle, ethical entrepreneur, writer, presenter and organic farmer; and Daily Telegraph writer, Xanthe Clay.

This year, the judges based their decisions not only the quality of the product, but the organic story behind it – such as how the business and product went the extra mile in animal welfare, protecting the environment and wildlife, promoting health and serving the community.

The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment.

Voting has opened on the Soil Association website and will continue until Tuesday, September 30.

For further information, or to cast your vote, log on to www.soilassociation.org/organicawards


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