THREE rural businesses this week celebrated success in a national countryside awards scheme.

Cross Lanes Organic Farm, near Barnard Castle, Knitsley Farm Shop, Consett, and Broom House Farm, Witton Gilbert, scooped FARMAs – awards given by the National Farmers' Retailers and Markets Association.

Cross Lanes was judged best environmental farm retailer of the year and also made the final of the best farm retail newcomer section.

The award represented a double success for Cross Lanes, coming in the same week as the business won the 2012 Countryside Alliance Start-up award in the North-East.

Knitsley Farm Shop won the FARMA in the Own and Local section. Judges said an expansion to the premises had enabled the business to extend its large range of high quality own brand products.

Broom House Farm took the award for the best on-farm destination, with judges praising its passion for organic production and countryside stewardship.

The awards were made at the Farm and More conference in Harrogate, which attracted representatives of rural businesses from around the country.

Guests included food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has been a patron of FARMA for more than a decade.

Peter Coverdale, director of Cross Lanes Organic Farm, said the awards were a fantastic achievement for the North-East.

“The competition is very tough in these awards and the standards extremely high.

“We are aware of the need for good food security, honest labelling and clarity over welfare.”

Mr Coverdale added: “Recent issues have dented the public's faith in the food manufacturing sector. We are sure farm shops and local producers can help fill this void and restore people's faith in our sector.”