Farm produce award winners are essence of trust's 'special places'
Producers from across the Westcountry made the grade in the prestigious National Trust Fine Farm Produce Award this year.
The sought-after awards, which are supported by Freedom Food and are now in their eighth year, celebrate the breadth and quality of produce grown, reared or made on special places owned or managed by the National Trust, including tenant farms, orchards and gardens.
Eight producers from the Westcountry made the awards list with two – double cream from Ashclyst Farm in Devon and ham hock from Chyvarloe, near Helston in West Cornwall – receiving the coveted "stamp" for the first time.
Adam and Ellen Simon, from Tamarisk Farm, between Lyme Regis and Weymouth, were also among the newcomers. They were recognised for their organic wool which was described as being "of exceptional quality".
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Mrs Simon said: "We started using wool from our organic flock of Dorset Downs, Hebrideans, Shetlands and Jacob sheep in 2011.
"Our sheep are all native breeds and were selected primarily for their conservation ability – they graze in ways which maintain the species rich pastures."
On the Castle Drogo estate, deer roam through diverse habitats from ancient woodland to heathland and grassland, creating natural, quality venison.
The wild population of roe and fallow deer have been managed for 30 years, and head ranger Mick Jones has been involved in their management for the past 15.
He said: "The venison used to be sold off to game dealers and butchers on an ad hoc basis with a small amount sold at the Drogo cafe after being butchered locally. It's only in the last two years, thanks to the installation of a larder on the Drogo estate, that we have been able to take control of the venison produced and ensure a high standard of production."
Other winners from the South West this year included double cream from Ashclyst Farm and Red Devon beef from Burrow farm which are both on the Killerton Estate in East Devon.
The Killerton Estate also won awards for their products, including cider and charcoal, for the seventh year while Barrington Court, near Ilminster in Somerset, won much coveted stamps for the fifth time. Rob Macklin, head of food and farming at the National Trust and chairman of the judging panel, said: "This year's award-winning foods have really captured the essence of the special place where they have been grown, bred or produced.
"It is our aim to really connect customers to where their food comes from and these awards are a great way for us to do this. Since 2006, over 250 products have received a Fine Farm Produce Award and this year's winners will join a group of some of the very best producers that the country has to offer."