Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert visited Rushfields farm shop in Poynings last week (Friday 6 February) to congratulate the owners on winning a Sussex Food and Drink award.
Mr Herbert called in to see Colin and Pam Langridge after their popular farm shop was named Sussex Food and Drink 2015 Food Shop of the Year.
The awards, which are in their ninth year and celebrate the best of Sussex farming and produce, were announced at a ceremony at the Amex stadium in Falmer on 29 January.
Colin and Pam Langridge have owned Rushfields Plant Centre since 1984 and steadily expanded the business, opening a farm shop four years ago. They have also recently refurbished their café.
Mr Herbert chatted to the owners and staff, and was given a tour of the farm shop and plant centre. The Langridges’ passion for sourcing local produce is evident in every part of the farm shop. They showed the MP the range of food and drink that is produced in Sussex, including chocolate products made by fellow award winners Cocoa Loco in Partridge Green, and apple drinks made by Wobblegate from Bolney.
Most of the meat that is sold and prepared by Rushfields’ in-house butchers is sourced from neighbouring farms, and their butcher Paul Channon makes his own award-winning sausages. Pies and sausage rolls are also made fresh on-site.
Mr Herbert is a strong supporter of local food production and farmers’ markets, which are becoming increasingly popular.
Last week (Thursday 12 February) the Government announced that West Sussex and the South Downs National Park will become two of eleven new Food Enterprise Zones which aim to help food businesses to grow.
Grants will be made available to each zone by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to encourage new businesses to be set up to make and sell local food produce. The aim is to help dairy farms diversify, and boost horticulture and production.
In the South Downs, the funding will help enable new dairy production on existing dairy farms by re-using redundant farm buildings and brownfield sites within the National Park. It will also allow for more farm shops to be set up allowing direct sale to consumers.
Following the MP’s visit, Colin Langridge said: “It was good to show Nick Herbert what we do here and to show him all the local produce sold in our farm shop. We are very proud of our latest award.
“Anything that encourages local food production is a good thing. Especially funding for dairy production would be good as they are having a difficult time at the moment. Our whole business is based on local produce from Sussex.”
Nick Herbert said: “It was a pleasure to visit Rushfields Farm Shop and I could immediately see why it is an award winner. It was encouraging to see so much locally-sourced produce and how this successful business has grown.
“Great local food is important to the South Downs economy and I am pleased that we have been given two of these new Food and Enterprise Zones which will potentially benefit local businesses.”
Report and picture contributed by The Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP.