The best of the products from farmers' markets around New Zealand have been decided, and were announced last night at a very special Farmers' Markets NZ Awards dinner held in Feilding.
Judging was no mean feat given the vast array of categories and geographical regions involved, but tough decisions were made and the list narrowed to unveil what is in effect a guide to the very best farm-fresh produce New Zealand has to offer.
Feilding Farmers' Market
Creamiest Food Producer from the Dairy
Mount Eliza Cheese, Tauranga Farmers' Market.
Tastiest Pip Fruit - Okainamu Organics, Nelson Farmers' Market. The judges remarked that these were the tastiest apples and pears they had ever tried.
Dirt on the Roots - Almadale Produce Ltd, Feilding Farmers' Market. With a freshly dug appearance, great flavour and texture, Almadale's potatoes were the judges' favourite.
Dirt Off and On the Roots - Heatherdale, Nelson Farmers' Market. The perfect showcase of produce from the garden and field.
Organically Produced - Kandu Organics, Tauranga Farmers' Market. Kandu Organics is a small BioGro certified orchard and garden situated just north of Tauranga, on the harbour's edge. A mild climate and fertile soil allow for the growth of tasty organic produce all year, earning them the coveted title of best organic producers in New Zealand.
Freshest Food Producer from the Water
Stewart Island Smoked Salmon Ltd - Invercargill, Ohoka, Christchurch, Mt Pleasant & Lyttelton. Fished and hot smoked on Stewart Island, the judges deemed this family business' King Salmon a 6/5.
Best Food Producer from the Kitchen Bench
Lancaster Citrus, Feilding Farmers' Market. Using time-honoured techniques to make delicious chutneys and marmalades, Lancaster Citrus took the prize with their Honey Mustard Pickle, Apricot Sweet Chilli and Fig and Walnut chutnies, and simple orange marmalade.
Tastiest Food Producer from the Butchery
Westwood Organics (chicken), Canterbury Farmers' Market. Chickens that have unrestricted access to mixed pasture, sunshine and shelter inevitably result in meat with a delicious texture with no wateriness.
Innovation from the Kitchen Bench
Cheviot Hills Fine Foods, Lyttelton Farmers' Market. Transforming hawthorn berries into a rich sauce to complement venison, game, roasted vegetables or even used in soup, Cheviot Hills Fine Foods have made the most of the abundance of the plant in their local area. The sauce is incredibly labour intensive, as each haw is about the size of a pea and requires stone-removal. The judges were very impressed by the effort, which they believed was evident in the final product.
Market Manager of the Year 2014
Raewyn Loader, Feilding Farmers' Market.
Find your local farmers’ market at by visiting www.farmersmarkets.org.nz