A THREE-year project to support the local food sector throughout rural County Durham was celebrated at a special lunch.

And guests were told cash had been secured to ensure some of the work undertaken by Love Food will continue for another 12 months.

More than 60 people who have been involved in Love Food gathered at Eggleston Hall, near Middleton-in-Teesdale, to review the project's work.

Love Food was set up to support the production, use and appreciation of locally grown or reared food throughout Teesdale, Weardale, the Allen Valleys and Derwentside.

Project director Hazel Coppack said it was hoped some elements of Love Food would now become self sufficient.

“The project has done some great work over the past three years in terms of education, supporting local producers and providing help for small food businesses to set up, develop and expand.

“There has also been the hidden story of the support given to hundreds of farmers to help with the paperwork and bureaucracy they have to deal with.”

The project was developed by Teesdale Marketing, whose chairman Bill Oldfield said: “Not only has this been a great project for local suppliers, users and businesses, and a superb educational tool of children and adults alike, it has been excellent as a stimulus for the local economy.”

Love Food received nearly £400,000 during its three year duration and secured a further £77,500 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme to continue for another 12 months.