Winners of 2023 RBST Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability Awards Announced

The winners of the 2023 RBST Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability Awards have been announced, recognising their excellence in sustainable food and farming.

Industry news
Published: 26/06/2023

The winners of the 2023 RBST Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability Awards have been announced, recognising their excellence in sustainable food and farming.

The awards were presented to winners from across Scotland by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Mairi Gougeon MSP at a ceremony during the Royal Highland Show on Thursday 22nd June 2023.

The awards are run by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in Scotland (RBST Scotland). RBST is the national charity that promotes the UK’s rare native livestock and equine breeds. The RBST Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability awards celebrate the people and businesses throughout Scotland’s farming and food industry who have placed environmental sustainability and native breeds at the heart of what they do. This year marks the awards programme’s second year, as it returns following its successful launch in 2022.

Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon, who presented the awards to the winners at the Royal Highland Show, said: “I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust for all the hard work they do to protect and nurture a vital part of the agriculture industry. We want to transform farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. The valuable insight of the RBST means that it has a vital role in helping us to achieve this goal. I’d like to congratulate all of today’s winners and nominees. They are ensuring that sustainable farming and food production tells a story – a story not only of Scotland’s proud rural heritage, but of our future too.”

Martin Beard, RBST Vice President Scotland, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the innovative, sustainable food and farming businesses in Scotland, through the return of our RBST Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability Awards this year. In 2023 we are marking 50 years since RBST’s formation and it is a great occasion to celebrate the businesses and people leading the way towards a more sustainable future in Scotland. The standard of entries was again exceptionally high which is a real testament to the fantastic work taking place across Scotland to put environmental sustainability and our rare and native breeds at the heart of food and farming. I thank the judging panel and the awards sponsors for their expertise and support in helping us to celebrate these fantastic people, businesses and organisations.”

The winners of the categories were chosen by two expert judging panels, one panel for the food categories which was chaired by RBST Scotland Chair Steve McMinn; and the second for the farming categories which was chaired by RBST Chairman John Atkinson. With thanks to the expert judging panellists: creator of The Scottish Food Guide Wendy Barrie; Scotland Food and Drink’s Head of Regional Food Fiona Richmond; Head of Food & Enterprise at SAC Consulting Ceri Ritchie; Head of Agricultural Holdings and the Women in Agriculture taskforce at Scottish Government Fiona Leslie; The Scottish Smallholder Festival’s Rosemary Champion; and Galbraith Group’s Martin Ritchie.

Quotes from some of the award winners (the full list of winners can be found below):

Neil Forbes, Chef Director of Café St Honore in Edinburgh, winner of Sustainable Chef of the Year, said: “As a supporter of rare breeds for many years, I'm honoured, and so proud, to be awarded the Rare Breed Survival Trust's Chef Of The Year. By going direct to farms to buy my beef, pork, chicken, mutton and lamb I feel I'm buying the best quality I can. I'm also aware of the importance of the promotion of rare breeds on my menus. Not just so people can enjoy the taste, but to encourage them to seek it out themselves at their local butchers or farm shop. We all need to support these endangered species, and eating them is a great place to start. As a chef, I see it as my duty to pass on this knowledge to the next generation of chefs. But perhaps the main reason I love rare breeds is because of their flavour. There's something truly unique about the taste of every particular breed. I adore that.”

Alison Tuke of Hardiesmill, Scottish Borders, winner of Sustainable Farm of the Year, said: “We went to Native Aberdeen Angus to help our pure-bred Angus Herd to be more sustainable, as we have been raising cattle on grass since 2003, and the adding of pure-native genetics has given us better growth and lower water consumption - key factors for our farm. It has helped construct the virtuous circle of quality, sustainability, profitablility, welfare and taste that is helping us in our drive to produce some of the best beef in the world.”

John Bennett of Brackenbrae, Perthshire, winner of Rare Breeds Survival Trust Champion of the Year, said: “I am very happy to have been nominated for and to receive the award from RBST Scotland. I welcome the publicity that it will bring to The Cleveland Bay Horse Society and the breed. I think it important that the qualities of rare breeds such as the Cleveland Bay are explained to a wider public before they are lost forever.”

The Winners of the RBST Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability Awards:

Sustainable Farm of the Year (sponsored by Galbraith Group) – Hardiesmill: Hardiesmill is a family farm in the Scottish Borders raising beef cattle sustainably from its herd of Pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle which are born, reared and butchered on the farm. The judges said that Hardiesmill is not only sustainable, focused on the environment and their pasture system, but has also been brave enough to follow their route knowing it would lead to a penalty for longer leys. The judging panel agreed that the Hardiesmill approach should be at the heart of Scottish agriculture today and into the future.

Sustainable Small Farm of the Year (sponsored by The Scottish Smallholder Festival) – West Mossside Organic Farm: West Mossside Organic Farm in The Trossachs farms organically, following wildlife and habitat conservation principles on its land which includes part of the raised bog of the Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve. The judges commended the farm for its combination of traditional farming with valuable diversification, and its owners’ commitments to biodiversity, keeping crafts alive and breeding Shetland Cattle.

Sustainable Food Producer of the Year (sponsored by Scotland Food & Drink) – Joint winners Jane Cooper and Richard Brand & Son, East Fortune Farm:

• Jane Cooper and the Orkney Boreray Community: Jane Cooper is working to secure the sustainable future of Orkney Boreray sheep by making their mutton a niche commercial product and bringing together a community of like-minded Orkney farmers and crofters. The judges described Jane as a great champion for rare breeds, delivering a strong message of provenance, food heritage and agroecology, who has inspired a community which has created their supply chain, fuelling and growing demand.

• Richard Brand & Son, East Fortune Farm: Fourth generation farmers at East Fortune Farm, East Lothian, which includes a farm shop stocking much of the farm’s own produce including native breed pork and lamb. The judges said that this inspirational family conveys great sustainability messages, supporting rarer breeds and working collaboratively with other local producers. They commended the farm as a working farm with multiple diversifications which never forgets the prime pedigree produce from their rare breeds.

Sustainable Butcher or Wholesaler of the Yearjoint winners Macbeth Butchers and Macduff 1890

• Macbeth Butchers: A family run business on Tolbooth Street in Forres, Moray, providing high quality products throughout the UK, including beef provided from their own farm where they rear traditional Scottish native breeds. Judges commented that by collaborating with smallholders and farmers, Macbeths offers a local lifeline service as well as valuing traditional and rare breeds and butchering them for their high street shop, online and for hospitality.

• Macduff 1890: This meat wholesaler is passionate about supporting the economic, social and environment benefits of our native breeds. Based at Wishaw, Macduff 1890 sources from a range of animals on the RBST Watchlist from farms across Scotland. The judges commended the approach to embracing numerous rare breeds with emphasis on their sourcing, butchery, and delivery to chefs and consumers worldwide.

Market of the year - Kelso Farmers Market: Kelso Farmers Market has been running for over 20 years and is a non-profit organisation, held monthly it serves an outstanding range of local producers from the Borders. Judges commented on the community initiative’s clear message and strong ideals, and commended the support it gives to the local community through charity donations.

Sustainable Produce Retail Outlet of the Year (sponsored by SAC Consulting) - Thyme Delicatessen and Farm Shop at Errichel: Errichel is a farm to fork business based on a family farm in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, which promotes native, heritage produce. The judges commended the range and depth of rare breed produce at Errichel’s Thyme Delicatessen and Farm Shop, and the education about sustainable food and farming that it provides for consumers with cheese & charcuterie tastings and farm tours that showcase the farm’s multiple rare breeds.

Sustainable Chef of the Year (sponsored by Scottish Food Guide) – Neil Forbes, Café St Honore: Neil is Chef Director at Cafe St Honore in Edinburgh, which serves daily-changing menus using the best local, seasonal and sustainable British ingredients. Judges commended Neil for his passion for rare breeds, their stories and traditions which is evidenced in all restaurant’s activities, from menus to marketing. The judges particularly appreciated Neil’s whole animal approach and zero waste.

Sustainable Farming Influencer of the Year (sponsored by Ledingham Chalmers) - Nikki Yoxall: A farmer in Aberdeenshire, Nikki communicates widely about how careful management can help feed the soil biology, playing a key role in creating healthy ecosystems. Judges commented that Nikki continues to be one of the most influential people in Scotland in terms of sustainable and regenerative farming.”

Native Breed Society of the Year - The Eriskay Pony Society: The Eriskay Pony Society is committed to protecting and promoting Scotland’s Ancient Hebridean Ponies, with an enthusiastic and pro-active council. Judges commended the society’s dedication to the breed and the positive impacts of its work for the future of Eriskay ponies.

Rare Breeds Survival Trust Champion of the Year (sponsored by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust) - John Bennett, Brackenbrae (Perthshire): The judges commended John
for his fantastic work as an ambassador for RBST, his exceptional horsemanship and expertise in breeding the very best Cleveland Bays. The judges praised John for the real difference he continues to make to the quality of the Cleveland Bay breed.

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