Swindon’s own Lotmead Farm has been crowned cream of the crop in the FARMA National Farm Retail Awards, bringing home the title of Pick Your Own of the Year.
FARMA is the trade body representing around 500 farm retailers across the UK and host an annual award ceremony to identify and celebrate the best PYOs, farm shops, farmers’ markets, farm restaurants and farm butchers.
Lotmead went head to head with Pick Your Owns from across the country and were triumphant due to the development of the business over the years and the excellent products and service on offer at the PYO.
Over the past few years, Lotmead has grown with the introduction of a wider variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as the addition of a cafe, play area and small animal enclosure.
This is the first time Lotmead has taken home the award, having previously been finalists in 2011.
The FARMA judging panel took an in-depth look at the business, including a surprise visit and analysing procedures, policies and the PYO’s accounts. The judges said: I have visited this PYO over many years and am delighted with how it has evolved from being a very basic rustic PYO into a professional small rustic PYO offering quality soft fruit and a small selection of vegetable products. Well-trained, efficient, courteous staff who went out of their way to be informative, helpful and friendly.”
John Meaden, Lotmead Farm manager, said: “Lotmead has been enjoyed by families in Swindon since 1983. Our belief has always been to make it easy for everyone to enjoy visiting Lotmead. We were one of the first PYOs in the country to grow on table-tops so that the less agile and wheelchair users can pick too.
“Our specially chosen varieties of strawberries and soft fruit also mean that we have a long season of fruit picking and we’re always looking at adding new things for families to enjoy.
“Running a PYO is a year-long business and this award is testament to the hard work and dedication that the whole team puts in across the year to make sure that the summers are as enjoyable as possible for the people of Swindon and beyond.”
Michael Mack of Savills, the managing agent for FARMA, comments: “The FARMA awards are a fantastic way to reward our members for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. The awards are presented at the end of an educational and inspiring three day members conference and trade show, which is a wonderful way to celebrate their passion to promote food grown and sold by the same hands.”
Lotmead will be opening for the season at the end of May or beginning of June. There will again be an exciting schedule of activities, visit www.lotmead.co.uk for more details or keep up to date with the PYO on social media – www.facebook.com/lotmeadfarm www.instagram.com/lotmeadfarm www.twitter.com/lotmeadfarm.
Pictured above: Lotmead manager Sue and John Meaden with their FARMA award and Denzil the donkey