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Best Greengrocer 2020 | Slemish Market Garden wins Slow Food NI Award

The winners of this years’ Slow Food Awards NI have been announced and the McCooke family at the Slemish Market Garden in Ballymena, are delighted to have won ‘Best Greengrocer’ award.

Created seven years ago, the Slow Food awards are truly democratic – with no prior shortlisting, the winners are simply chosen by whoever gets the most votes.

These Awards are so powerful in highlighting Good, Clean and Fair, that like last year, thousands of you voted over the summer. Each nation has its own winners, with the highest number of votes in each category also being the overall UK winner.

In addition to the public vote, each nation director chose their Person of the Year, with one of those of winners being crowned Slow Food in the UK Person of Year as well.

Commenting on winning the award, Frank McCooke, who runs the very popular local organic food producers along with wife Linda and son Matt, shared a photo (above) and said:

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! Remember sunny days like this - Linda, Matt and myself planting the fields, seed sown, grown all for sale in our shop. Not in our wildest dreams did we ever think of what has just happened to us this cold, wet December evening and it’s all down to you great people.

“For once, words fail me! From the three of us and the entire Slemish team that make our wee family business work, a massive, massive thank you. We are humbled and we don’t mind admitting it, a bit choked up. We’ve just been named ‘ ‘Slow Food Greengrocer of the Year’ for Northern Ireland.”

Frank continued: “There were no lists - you folk just voted for us out of the blue, a true democratic vote.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Christmas has come early at Slemish! We have often jokingly said: “If true friends were a commodity that we could sell, we’d be millionaires!””

The full list Slow Food Northern Ireland winners:

• Best Butcher | Hannan Meats, Craigavon • Best Baker | Ursa Minor, Ballycastle • Best Greengrocer | Slemish Market Garden, Ballymena • Best Fishmonger | Ewings, Belfast • Best Deli or Grocer | Indie Fude, Comber • Best Cheesemonger | Indie Fude, Comber • Best Market | St George’s Market, Belfast • Best Restaurant/Food Eatery | Native Seafood and Scran, Coleraine • Champion Slow Food Product | Mike’s Fancy Cheese Young Buck

Person of the Year:  Jilly Dougan

Director for Slow Food NI, Paula McIntyre said: “Jilly works to promote growing and sustainability throughout NI, championing seasonality and food with a sense of place – something never more important than in the current pandemic.”

Well done everyone!