Organic farmers, food producers and businesses were recognised in the bi-annual awards for the organic sector this week.
Veg box company Riverford (and publisher of Wicked Leeks) scooped a hat-trick at the Soil Association-run BOOM Awards, for best veg box, best online retailer and best marketing campaign, for its tie-up with FareShare, which enabled customers to help divert surplus brassicas from fields to the food charity in Devon.
Judges, who included Telegraph columnist Xanthe Clay, chef Romy Gill and Bake-Off contestant Briony May Williams, wrote that: “Riverford walk the walk. Its success does not come from messages which say ‘buy these products’, its success comes from content which demonstrates authentic and necessary leadership in the food system.”
Chief executive of Riverford, Rob Haward, said: “To come out of three challenging years with three coveted BOOM awards is fantastic. We feel extra proud to have been acknowledged in the awards for our lasting commitment to a fairer, better way of growing and selling food that has people and the planet at its heart.”
Best of organic eating out went to fellow Devon-based ethical business The Bull Inn, owned by Geetie and Guy Singh-Watson, for its “leadership in the eating out industry”, while best of organic independent retail went to Bristol-based ethical food chain Better Food.
In the food categories, best of organic dairy went to Brown Cow Organics for its kefir fermented yoghurt, while the public vote for ‘nation’s favourite’ went to Clearspring Organic Tofu for its silken and smooth product.
Vegan organic farmer and pioneer Iain Tolhurst, of Tolhurst Organic, received the prestigious lifetime achievement award at a special moment in the ceremony, which took place in Bristol this week, presented by Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning.
“Iain has dedicated his life to organic and has led the way in so many areas such as achieving net zero and inspiring others to do the same,” she said.
“He has farmed organically for 40 years and has held the Soil Association organic symbol for over 30 years, making Tolhurst Organic one of the longest running organic vegetable farms in England. He is a true advocate for the movement both in theory and in practise, and we are so thrilled to be able to recognise this with this special BOOMs Lifetime Achievement Award.”
The rising star was awarded to Sinead and Adam Fenton of Aweside Farm who left their London lives to run an organic farm in Arlington, East Sussex, where they have transformed 4.5 acres of ex-arable land into an ecologically thriving smallholding.
Commercial and marketing director for Soil Association certification, Alex Cullen, said: “These are the people who make the system work and draw other people in. It’s thanks to them that we’re so hopeful for the future, and we’re thrilled we’ve been able to recognise them.”
“These farming systems demand dedication and commitment to the principles of organic and require farmers to work with, not against nature. We recognise this additional work, care and attention that goes into making such wonderful produce to such high standards.”