A NORTH Yorkshire farmers’ market has been named the best in the country in a high profile national contest.

It is the first year that Stokesley Farmers’ Market has entered the FARMA awards, run by the National Farmers’ Retail and Markets’ Association.

After submitting a last minute entry to the awards in summer last year, the market was named on Tuesday evening (February 25) as National Farmers’ Market of the Year 2014.

The judging panel, made up of farm retail experts and former award-winners, made its announcement at the FARMA awards ceremony in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

Stokesley Farmers’ Market was one of six finalists, competing for the title with fellow finalists Saltburn Farmers’ Market, plus four other contenders, two based in Cambridgeshire and one based in Leeds and the other Bradford.

Nigel Davison, manager of Northern Dales Farmers' Markets in North Yorkshire said there was a substantial waiting list of stallholders for the popular market and he received about three to six requests a week from interested traders. The market accommodates 36 stallholders and is held on the first Saturday of every month.

The market scored highly for the good mix of produce sold at the market, its lively, friendly atmosphere, good management and support from local shoppers.

But he said he thought it was the variety of the market’s carefully selected traders which helped add to the success. Between them they sell organic vegetables, meat, British charcuterie, Italian puddings and other items.

Mr Davison said it also had a reputation for quality of produce and had backing from shopkeepers and Stokesley Parish Council.

He said: “I’m still on cloud nine. We get fantastic backing from the parish council which is worth a lot, and fantastic feedback from people in the town. It’s great because then we know we’re bringing something to the town and we all benefit.”

The next Stokesley Farmers’ Market will be on Saturday, March 1.

“The market clearly makes a valuable contribution to the well-being of Stokesley,’ said Gareth Jones, one of the award's judges.

“Stokesley Farmers’ Market is a jewel, brimming with local foods and bursting with energy. It is clear why it is so much loved.

“Congratulations go to Nigel Davison, and to the Northern Dales Farmers’ Market group that he co-ordinates; and to Stokesley Parish Council – particularly Councillor Lynn Southern – for their tremendous support.”