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Devon is the top county in the UK when it comes to the number of organic food producers.
Devon has been declared the number one organic county, according to the latest figures from the farming ministry, Defra.
The county has more organic food producers and processors than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, with 464 certified organic operators compared to the next highest, Somerset (268 operators).
County council chiefs are delighted with the figures, saying they fit in with Devon's aim of being the greenest county.
Defra's statistics reveal that Devon has several large scale organic producers and processors, and a high number of smaller farm-based businesses that focus on local, direct trade.
Devon's producer's and processors won a record 12 awards in the Soil Association 2006 organic food awards, with a range of products from pork, veal and chicken to vegetable boxes, cordials and stir fry sauces.
Organic crop fields in South Devon
As well as having the most producers and processors, Devon also has the second largest area of certified organic land - 24,395 hectares of land, which represents 5% of the total land area, and only 41 hectares behind the leading county, Northumberland.
Devon County Council and the Soil Association have teamed up through a European funded project called RAFAEL to promote and support the county's local food businesses.
The project works with producers to promote their goods and develop their markets. It also encourages local people to make the most of the high quality produce grown in Devon.
The initiatives include getting more local organic food into school meals.
Devon's reputation as the top organic county in the country is also a boost for the tourism industry. It's hoped that Devon's distinctive food and drink will help to attract people to the county.
However, the biggest boost is to the county's environment.
Councillor Humphrey Temperley, Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Rural Affairs, said: "Devon has a growing reputation for putting the environment first, so being the top organic county is a real coup.
"Achieving this status will help the county to showcase our best aspects – food, drink, environment and our people to a wider audience."
He added: "Sustainable food and farming is a key element to the regeneration of Devon. Promoting and using local quality ingredients is one of the council's top priorities.
"By purchasing locally grown seasonal produce, the benefits are fourfold. We can minimise food miles, reduce our carbon footprint, provide a healthy diet in the case of service users and also boost the local economy. It's a tremendous achievement."
last updated: 21/02/2008 at 16:58
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From moor to shore - Devon's nature uncovered