FOUR Sussex companies have made it to the finals of the 2019 Countryside Alliance Awards, also known as the Rural Oscars.

The awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through the small hard-working businesses.

They are now in their 14th year and this year there were more than 17,000 nominations.

In the local food/ drink category, the only finalist from Sussex is The Sussex Peasant, 2 Belmont, Brighton.

It is a mobile farm shop and pop-up restaurant.

Boxies, situated at The Street, Boxgrove, Chichester, has made it to the final of the village shop/Post Office section.

Also through in the same category is Fittleworth Shop Post Office Restaurant, Fittleworth, Pulborough.

Stones Family Butchers, at Lingfield Road, East Grinstead, is in the final of the butchers’ category.

The Sussex Peasant’s founder and manager is Ed Johnstone.

All the products are bought from farmers in Sussex and are picked up on Thursday and Friday to ensure they are as fresh as possible.

Ed, from Brighton, was brought up in the countryside and has always had an interest in this area.

Although he studied philosophy at university, he decided to continue his family’s tradition in the industry as he saw great potential in selling and promoting local and fresh produce.

He said his ambition was to drive people to eat and cook food that is local and well farmed.

He said: “At its heart, The Sussex Peasant wants to change lifestyles and create a food and drinks concept with longevity.

“Being mobile, we make it convenient and accessible so we can just trade when there are a lot of people, such as after school hours.”

Ed’s business partners include Sheffield Farms in Mayfield; Southdowns Dairy, in Rodmell; Brickpits Farm near Sheffield Park; the Traditional Cheese Company and Maynards Fruit Farm, in Wadhurst.

The Sussex Peasant travels to three locations a week.

On Fridays it stops at Jubilee Square by the library in Brighton, the Pepper Pot on Saturdays, the Chimney House Pub near Seven Dials on Sundays and Hassocks Station on Monday evenings.

It can also be found at Preston Park on Saturdays and St George’s Church in Kemptown on Fridays.

He said: “I read that around one per cent of farm produce doesn’t get harvested and it is a waste.

“We have identified this opportunity because at the end of the day we are making food real again, we are educating people how and where their food is sourced.”

English regional champions will be announced in May.