Producer: Mash Direct, County Down
Product: Crispy Vegetable Bakes
Region: Northern Ireland
Category: From the earth, artisan
What they do:
Martin and Tracy Hamilton’s family have been farming in the County Down area for more than six generations. In 2004 the couple launched Mash Direct, a range of ready-meals made from veg grown on their farm near the shores of Strangford Lough.
Food waste is a massive problem in the fruit and veg farming industry. But because the Hamilton’s vegetables are grown for flavour, not appearance, vegetables that don’t make the supermarket grade are put to use in their veggie bakes. Any surplus veg is given to charity. In the last five years, Mash Direct has donated enough vegetables to make 170,000 meals for vulnerable people across Northern Ireland.
The journey from field to fork is very short and many of the vegetables that go into their products are grown in the fields surrounding the factory. Their Crispy Vegetable Bakes are made from freshly steamed local carrots, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower and potato, topped with a gluten-free crumb.
What the judges said:
Mash Direct’s dedication to the business and craft impressed the judges. The panel commended the company’s professional operation and commitment to new product development, noting that they had “a superb record of engagement with the community at most levels, including offering career opportunities to school leavers".
Visit the website: Mash Direct