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Tibenham firm secures good food show spot

PUBLISHED: 15:39 11 October 2011

Jeff and Karen Nethercott of Samphire.

Jeff and Karen Nethercott of Samphire.

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2009

Two award-winning Norfolk food producers have been given the chance to showcase their mouth-watering produce on a national stage after receiving a prestigious bursary to exhibit at the BBC Good Food Show next month.

Karen and Jeff Nethercott, who run Samphire from their smallholding in Tibenham, near Long Stratton, are one of just six businesses across the UK to be awarded a free spot at the five-day event being held at the NEC, in Birmingham, which typically attracts 90,000 people.

The couple, who are famed for their free range rare breed pork pies, sausage rolls and fresh sausages, had to submit samples of their products to a tasting panel in London before being awarded the sought-after bursary which will see them rub shoulders with some of the country’s top chefs and food critics.

Karen said Samphire has been offered a stall and hoardings, worth about £2,000, which the small business would never have been able to afford.

“We were stunned to the win the award and delighted of course. It’s such a brilliant opportunity. To see 90,000 people over five days is a bit scary but we’ve very excited about the challenge,” she said.

Karen, who used to be a corporate accountant, and Jeff, who worked in the building trade, moved to the smallholding in 2002 and soon gave up their day jobs to concentrate on selling their produce and becoming advocates for animal welfare.

Their commitment to high breeding standards scooped them two RSPCA awards as well as praise from celebrity chef Gary Rhodes and writer Giles Coren.

The couple had run a shop at Blickling Hall for more than five years until January when the National Trust decided not to renew their lease in light of another project, which culminated in their second store in Wymondham also having to close its doors.

Despite the disappointing start, Karen said Samphire has enjoyed a successful year travelling around dozens of the eastern region’s farmers’ markets and fairs.

She added that they now intend to focus on encouraging the more public involvement at the smallholding with new courses on animal rearing and produce growing, and further open days.

“When the two shops closed, everything was very much up in the air and we were wondering what we were going to do but everything this year has been so successful. We been to lots of markets and fairs, we’ve been running a course on pig rearing and we’ve been getting a lot of trade enquiries from people wishing to stock our food,” she said.

For more information on Samphire, visit http://samphireshop.co.uk

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