Northern Ireland farmers celebrated by M&S Farming for the Future award

May 10, 2017

Farm businesses from Northern Ireland are recognised by M&S and The Prince's Countryside Fund for their contribution to rural communities with Farming for the Future award.

During this year’s Balmoral Show Glens of Antrim Potatoes Ltd won, and turkey farmer John Young was runner up in, The Prince’s Countryside Fund ‘Contribution to Rural Communities Award’ which champions producers in the food supply chain who are going the extra mile to help support local rural communities.

Glens of Antrim from Ballymena is a business that grows and packs a range of potatoes across Ireland. Set within an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the company is passionate about preserving the local landscape and has implemented a number of environmental policies, such as a zero-waste policy, to limit its impact on the local area.

David Morrow, Commercial Manager at Glens of Antrim Potatoes Ltd said: “The business has brought about the revival of the Irish Lumper potato, a variety that fell out of use after the Great Famine in Ireland in 1845. This historic potato is now used as part of a heritage project that we run; providing seed potatoes to school students, encouraging them to plant and grow their own potatoes, as well as learning about the history surrounding their use across Ireland.

“We also have a strong link with the local community surrounding the company’s base, through our sponsorship of key local events such as the Heart of the Glens Festival and the Glens of Antrim Triathlon. Local schools, clubs and youth groups are also encouraged to visit the business to gain an insight into the company’s work. Various members of staff also regularly deliver talks and presentations to clubs and societies out of office hours.

The team is also passionate about promoting the health and wellbeing of our staff and collaborates with various associations (including the British Heart Foundation) to deliver talks to staff on healthy eating, fitness, weight loss and giving up smoking.”

Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries at M&S said: “The Farming for the Future awards are now in their 10th year, acknowledging the dedication and commitment our farmers and growers are making towards Plan A and sharing best practice amongst the agricultural community across Ireland and the UK.

“Glens of Antrim is a very worthy winner and has proved this by demonstrating their innovative thinking, commercial success and social responsibility in the way they manage and execute their business. Our judges were particularly impressed with Glens of Antrim’s support of the local community and community activities, their work to revive a historic potato variety and commitment to the health of company staff.”

John Young, also based in Ballymena, Co. Antrim has 30 years’ experience in the poultry industry, John is a turkey breeding manager responsible for producing turkey hatching eggs for North Antrim Hatchery. As well as demonstrating a long-standing commitment to supplying high quality hatching eggs for farmers producing turkeys for Moy Park, John is a key fundraiser and organiser for a locally based charity, IGNITE

The commitment and dedication that John shows to the IGNITE cause is an inspiration and has motivated many of the farmers and staff that he works with to give up their spare time and get involved with the charity’s work.

Open to M&S local and international producers, the Farming for the Future Awards celebrate the important role suppliers play in working towards M&S Plan A commitments. The winner received £500 and runner up £100 in M&S vouchers in recognition of their success.

The Fund will be joining M&S at both the Royal Highland Show and Royal Welsh Show to announce the other winners of the award.