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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Slemish Market Garden awarded ‘Greengrocer of the Year’ in Northern Ireland AND UK

Frank and Linda McCooke

Slow Food in the UK has announced it’s award winners for 2021, and in an amazing double success, the team at Slemish Market Garden, Ballymena, have picked up the coveted award for Best Greengrocer of the Year 2021, both for Northern Ireland, and nationally for the United Kingdom.

It is the second year running that the Ballymena treasure, that is Slemish Market Garden, has won the award for Northern Ireland.

Situated in the Ecos Nature Park and close by the River Braid, winning the national award is testimony to the continued hard work of Frank and Linda McCooke, along with son Matthew, who work tirelessly at growing top quality organic produce from the land with all the challenges that come with it.

The Slow in the Food UK awards are decided by a public vote, with no shortlisting made by Slow Food in any category, except for the Person of the Year, which is chosen solely by the regional director for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The producers/businesses that receive the overall highest number of votes, also gains the title of Slow Food in the UK.

Commenting, Director for Slow Food Northern Ireland, Paula McIntyre says:

“It is a delight to see the public vote recognise the wonderful Slow Food producers in the region of Northern Ireland.

“It’s particularly great to have Slemish Market Garden in Ballymena win the best greengrocer in the UK. We're so proud of this family and what they contribute to the Slow Food ethos.”

Frank and Linda, pictured with son Matthew.

Responding to news of the double award success, Frank McCooke said:

“Here’s a big feather in the cap for Ballymena, County Antrim, and Northern Ireland - a massive early Christmas present for us, everyone involved with our business!

”The biggest of virtual hugs from us to all our customers.

“Unbelievably, against all odds, last year we won Northern Ireland Greengrocer of the year 2020. When you consider just how many greengrocers there are in the six counties, we were completely bowled over at winning.

“It was a bit optimistic to hope for another crack at this title, but the Slow Food Awards came around again and you fantastic people got voting once more, and what do you know - we’ve won again!”

Overwhelmed by the votes and support of the local business’ loyal customers, Frank went on to reflect on winning the broader UK award. He said:

“The Slemish Market Garden team are giant killers, hard grafters and more than a little competitive, so here’s the big one - it’s just been announced that Slemish Market Garden are the winners of BEST GREENGROCER IN THE UK 2021! We’re speechless.”

The full list of Northern Ireland winners can be found below.

• Best Butcher | Corndale Farm, Limavady • Best Baker | Ursa Minor, Ballycastle • Best Greengrocer | Slemish Market Garden, Ballymena • Best Fishmonger | Native Seafood, Portstewart • Best Deli or Grocer | Warkes Deli, Portstewart • Best Cheesemonger | Mike’s Fancy Cheese, Belfast • Best Market | St George’s Market, Belfast • Best Restaurant/Food Eatery | Stock Kitchen and Bar, Belfast • Champion Slow Food Product | Veal Charcuterie, Corndale Farm / Broughgammon

• Person of the Year | Mike Thomson

The winners of the UK Awards can use the title “Best Slow Food (category) in the UK” and the use of the UK Snail (above), plus receive a framed certificate which they can display at their premises.

Shane Holland, Executive Chairman of Slow Food in the UK commented:

“We know how important these awards are – both to the producers and businesses but also shoppers alike. They are a testament to quality food produced to a set of values which shoppers are actively looking for. We also know that these awards matter to the winners – many of whom experience a large increase in business, and some previous winners have gained new retail opportunities on their wins.”

Find out more about Slemish Market Garden, and keep up to date by visiting their Facebook page:



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