Nominations have opened for the 2009 Countryside Alliance Awards, now in their fifth year.

“The Rural Oscars” celebrate rural heritage, communities, produce and enterprise and members of the public are invited to nominate businesses that are particularly active in their community and help to promote rural life.

Categories include the local food award, enterprise award, the Daily Telegraph traditional business award and rural hero of 2009.

There are also categories for political campaigners at local and parliamentary level.

Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart said: “The awards have a feel-good factor that gives a boost to everyone involved.

“We are hoping for a crop of diverse and inspiring nominations to rival our 2008 winners.”

“I would urge everyone who supports local farmers, businesses and communities to nominate their favourites now!”

The national judging panel will include TV cook and countrywoman Clarissa Dickson Wright, Farmers Guardian editor Emma Penny, British Food Fortnight director Alexia Robinson and Daily Telegraph assistant editor Andrew Pierce.

Regional winners will be announced in December and go forward to a grand final judged by the national panel.

The overall winners will be announced at a national reception at The Houses of Parliament in early 2010.

To cast your vote go to Nominations are open until 19 October.