AN ethical Borders farmers market set up over two decades ago has been named the best in Scotland.

The not-for-profit Kelso Farmers Market (KFM) was established in the late 1990s by a group of farm producers who were looking for a way to sell their locally grown, reared and home-made produce to a local audience.

The market is held on the fourth Saturday of each month in the town’s traditional Market Square and has over 24 regular stallholders.

Last week the market won the first-ever Market of the Year Award at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s (RBST) Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability Awards, staged at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.

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.

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KFM chairman Steven Jack expressed “delight” at the honour, adding: “Farmers markets give consumers the perfect opportunity to engage directly with the people who make the products they are about to buy, customers are able to learn and understand the provenance of the produce, ask how best to prepare and consume it as well as where it has come from.

“Our stallholders are made up of small, independent, local businesses, keeping our carbon footprint down, whilst providing sustainable produce, something the Scottish government is very keen to encourage and promote moving forward”.

The National: Steven JackSteven Jack (Image: LDR)

Another Borders success at the Royal Highland Show was Gordon-based Hardiesmill family farm, which specialises in raising beef cattle sustainably from its herd of Pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle which are born, reared and butchered on the farm.

The farm business, a regular at Kelso Farmers Market, picked up the Rare Breed Scotland’s Sustainable Farming Award.

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”.

Robin and Alison Tuke at Hardiesmill believe the award will enable them to “bang the drum” for sustainable farming.

The National: Robin and Alison TukeRobin and Alison Tuke (Image: LDR)

They added: “We raise our cattle sustainably. They eat species-rich grass, grass-silage and hay (no hormones, no steroids, no pesticides, no grain) in the most relaxed atmosphere – how an animal is raised, how it is fed has an enormous impact on the quality and taste of the beef.

“We’re thrilled to win with Rare Breed Scotland’s Sustainable Farming award. It helps us bang the drum for sustainable farming, and show the world that low inputs can be part of a virtuous, and profitable, circle.

“We have been raising cattle on grass since 2003. We went to Native Aberdeen Angus genetics to give us better growth off grass and lower water consumption – key factors for our farm.

“It has helped construct the virtuous circle of: quality, sustainability, profitability, welfare and taste that is key in our drive to produce what is recognised as some of the best beef in the world.”