THE Hereford Times is again preparing to celebrate the best of an industry that dominates our rural county as we launch the Hereford Times Food and Farming Awards 2021.

This year’s event, taking place online on June 17, will be bigger and better than ever. It has been expanded to incorporate and recognise those businesses that make such great use of the wealth of produce grown in Herefordshire – with restaurants, cafes and tea shops, food and drink producers and local food retailers joining the categories in line for awards.

You can follow news and updates about the awards on a dedicated Facebook page here

Agriculture is the biggest industry in Herefordshire and has shaped the landscape and the personality of a county in which around a quarter of all businesses are in the agricultural, forestry or fishing sectors.

Hereford Times: Ian Pugh, last year's winner of the Outstanding Achievement and Farming Hero awardsIan Pugh, last year's winner of the Outstanding Achievement and Farming Hero awards

It has also given rise to a thriving hospitality industry, one in which we are spoiled for choice when deciding where to eat out and enjoy the very best of what the farming community produces.

In every corner of the county there are fields and orchards, fruit farms and hop growers ensuring Herefordshire’s outstanding reputation for its food and farming culture.

In 2019, Pensons on the Netherwood Estate – Herefordshire’s only Michelin-starred restaurant – took the accolade of Best Food and Drink Business at our awards, while Ian Pugh last year picked up the Outstanding Achievement Award for both his farming achievements and his extraordinary fundraising efforts with his daughter Janie through the Merry Millers.

Hereford Times: Pensons, on the Netherwood Estate, took last year's Best Food and Drink Business AwardPensons, on the Netherwood Estate, took last year's Best Food and Drink Business Award

Altogether there are more than 2,400 agricultural businesses in the county, most of them employing fewer than 10 people, while 95 per cent of the land in Herefordshire is rural.

It is the many small farms – the average is 66 acres, among the smallest in the country – scattered across this rural landscape that have contributed to the county maintaining its distinctive character.

Historically, Herefordshire has been famous for its livestock, and hops, its cider apples and, in more recent times, its soft fruit. The county has an international reputation for its breed of cattle and its major cider industry, and an enviable name as a foodie destination.

But times have been changing as farming diversifies to meet modern challenges and the Hereford Times Food and Farming Awards were created to celebrate the multi-faceted nature of the industry, paying tribute to all that is best about local farming, local farmers and the businesses associated with them.

Hereford Times: TV's Adam Henson was the host of last year's awardsTV's Adam Henson was the host of last year's awards

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, last year’s event went digital, hosted online by one of the best known faces in farming, TV’s Adam Henson, with celebrities including National Farmers Union president Minette Batters and Ben Fogle paying tribute to the winners.

How to enter

Entries are now open for the 2021 event, which will take place in June, again in digital format as a live stream on the Hereford Times Facebook page. So if you or anyone who know of merits recognition for dedication, professionalism or innovation – visit and complete the online form to make a nomination.

Award categories are:

  • Cattle Farmer
  • Poultry Farmer
  • Arable/Fruit or Hop farmer
  • Family-run farm or Smallholding
  • Farm Conservation and Diversification
  • Best Farm Shop
  • Best Local Food Retailer
  • Best Dairy Producer
  • Best Food Producer (excluding dairy)
  • Best Drinks Producer
  • Best restaurant
  • Best cafe or tearoom

How our sponsors are supporting Herefordshire's food and farming industries

BUSINESSES are once again enthusiastically supporting the Hereford Times Food and Farming Awards, joining us to celebrate those who help feed the nation.

We are delighted to welcome many of our sponsors back to the awards and thank them for their loyalty, and for sharing with us the determination to recognise and reward those who work so hard on our behalf.

Sponsors for June’s awards are Avara Foods, Belmont Farm and Equine Vets, the Countryside Restoration Trust, Cupid Events, the Duchy of Cornwall, McCartneys Rural, Countrystore Whitestone, Lagan Homes, mfg solicitors and Western Power Distribution.

The awards will also be supporting the Addington Fund, a charity initially set up to help farmers suffering with the consequences of classical swine fever and then the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak. It exists to provide emergency support and help with housing form retiring farmers or those having to leave farm tenancies.

The Addington Fund itself is supporting the Food Producer award while Chase Distrillery, the Herefordshire family firm that grows potatoes and apples which it then distils into its range of spirits, is backing the Drinks Producer award.

The Countryside Restoration Trust, sponsors of the Best Farm Shop Award, was launched in response to growing fears about intensive and industrialised farming in 1993 by chairman Robin Page and the late artist and conservationist Gordon Beningfield.

Initially aiming to buy land that had been intensively farmed so that it could be restored to a living countryside, the CRT is now buying farmland and woodland where traditional farming methods, wildlife habitat and biodiversity are under threat. It is promising a working countryside using sensitive and sympathetic farming practices that encourage and protect wildlife to produce quality food.

Western Power Distribution is delighted to be sponsoring the Farm Conservation and Diversification ward category, having previously supported the Young Farmer Award.

Cupid Events, set up in 2017 by Jenny Evans, provides marquee hire, bars and event planning , and the company is proud to sponsor the Best Restaurant Award and recognise some of the many wonderful dining venues in the county.

Sponsors of the Family Run Farm or Smallholding category, mfg Solicitors LLP, traces its roots back more than 450 years. Its award-winning agriculture and rural affairs division is nationally recognised and its grasp of farming and rural matters ensures it provides strategic legal advice for all aspects of rural life.

Mfg also offers a specialist service for businesses within the food and drink industry.

Sponsoring the Cattle Farmer awards is Belmont Farm and Equine Vets, which continues to support the awards to ensure that those farmers doing an outstanding job ensuring the highest standards in the region get the recognition they deserve.

“We want to give something back. This is a thriving rural community and we want to be part of what is going on,” the practice says.

The Duchy of Cornwall is once again supporting our awards, this year sponsoring the Arable/Fruit/Hop Farmer of the Year, while Avara Foods appropriately sponsors the Poultry Farmer Award.

Top soft fruit producer AJ & CI Snell sponsors Best Local Food Retailer,

McCartneys sponsor Best Dairy Producer, Lagan Homes, Best Cafe or Tearoom and Countrystore Whitestone will be sponsoring event hampers.

The awards’ souvenir programme is sponsored by Nuffield Health.