If there was ever a time to support our rural businesses, that time is now

Local produce (well, maybe not the bananas)… we’d miss it if it disappeared

Many of our rural businesses will struggle to survive the coronavirus lockdown – some, it is fair to say, will go to the wall.
Our support for such businesses has never been more crucial. Among so many other things, we value their independence, their courage and their ability to offer us something beyond the mainstream supermarket offering.
We should not forget how important supermarkets have been during the lockdown – without them, it’s difficult to imagine how the system would not have broken down entirely. But… we love our smaller, independent operations and we would hate to witness them fold.
This is an appeal to rally round them as much as we can. Many of course will not be able to host visitors or ‘shoppers’ – but some will be able to get their goods to us.
An example is a shop operating from The Plough Inn at Stalisfield, near Faversham, which is taking food to the local community.
You can order via email (info@theploughinnstalisfield.co.uk) and the goods are packed and prepared at the shop. When the order is ready, you will be called to collect it, with payment taken over the phone.

The Plough Inn at Stalisfield

In the west of the county, we were given details of the situation in Cranbrook, where “the bakers, both butchers, the newsagent and DIY shop are all open, some with reduced hours, providing vital necessities”.
Our caller continued: “Outside the town, both Cranbrook Farm Shop (at Charity Farm) and Hartley Farm Shop are offering online ordering and collection.
“Cranbrook Fishmongers at Hartley Farm is open and offers deliveries to those who are self-isolating. Chittenden Farm Shop, near Staplehurst, is open, selling local fruit and vegetables, protecting the staff with a massive glass screen.”
The county’s horticulture industry is also facing a hugely difficult time, with visitors unable to visit nurseries. Even increased mail order is unlikely to make up for lost sales from customers and plant fairs, all of which are cancelled.
The following is not an exhaustive list but does detail some nurseries that are able to deliver plants to customers:

  • Madrona Nursery, Bethersden: can deliver orders within 10 miles (no charge) or further (small charge). Website: www.madrona.co.uk
  • Rapkyns Nursery, Broad Oak: catalogue on the website (www.rapkynsnursery.co.uk). Plants supplied by mail order or for collection or local delivery. Email: rapkynsnursery@hotmail.com Phone: 07771 916933
  • Anne Gurr, Cranbrook: selling tomato plants by appointment from a stand on the Cranbrook/Tenterden road. Payment by bank transfer. Phone: 01580 713843
  • Bumbles Plant Centre, Cranbrook: delivery for orders of more than £50 and a click-and-collect service. Website: bumbles-plant-centre.co.uk
  • How Green Nursery, Edenbridge: ‘contactless’ delivery service. Email your order, pay by BACS and delivery will be to a dedicated drop-off point. Website: howgreennursery.co.uk
  • Bean Place Nursery, Headcorn: delivery service within 20 miles of Headcorn for orders of more than £25. Also click and collect via the website www.beanplace.co.uk. Collections from a designated spot at the nursery, or orders sent through the post for as long as permitted. It is hoped that open days planned for September will go ahead. See also new Facebook page. Phone: 07841 484822 or 07779 728378
  • Blooming Green, Linton: planning a new initiative. Keep an eye on website www.bloominggreenflowers.co.uk
  • Golden Hill Plants, Marden: taking orders and payment online. Plants delivered or left at the gate on a trolley. Phone: 01622 833218 (ask for Fiona). Website: www.goldenhillplants.com
  • Iris of Sissinghurst, Sissinghurst: with the Chelsea Flower Show cancelled, many iris are available via mail order for as long as permitted. Website: irisofsissinghurst.com
  • Frankie’s Farm Shop & Staplehurst Nurseries, Staplehurst: bulk orders can be delivered (minimum charge). Website: www.frankiesfarmshop.co.uk
  • Pineview Plants, Wrotham Heath: working nursery, rarely open to the public. See website www.pineviewplants.co.uk and email a wish-list.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Why we should buy locally produced food

By Vicky Ellis

In these busy days we can easily be forgiven for a mad ‘one dash does it all’ to our nearest supermarket. However are we in danger of losing more than just local shops and producers? Are we really looking at the bigger picture as we desperately make a grab for that last bag of Spanish apples on the shelf? Who cares it’s just an apple after all – or is it?

Buying locally produced produce is so much more than just buying British. Local produce not only tastes great but helps the environment and the local economy, it can be exciting, invigorating, sociable, mentally stimulating and satisfying.

Potato crop, photo by Vicky Ellis

Potato crop, photo by Vicky Ellis

So let’s take stock for one moment and think, if we buy the first apple/tomato/lettuce that we pick up what are we actually buying into?

Local food is fresher, it hasn’t travelled thousands of miles from the Outer Hebrides for example (I exaggerate to prove a point). It’s more than likely been grown 10-30 miles away, and you may be buying straight from the farm that produced it. Therefore this produce has probably been harvested in the last 24 hours rather than over a week ago and kept refrigerated for all that time journeying by rail, road, sea or air, further refrigerated storage and finally road again to arrive at the supermarkets.

Photo by Vicky Ellis

Photo by Vicky Ellis

Eating fruit and veg in season means you appreciate that cauliflower, potato or sweetcorn all the more. The current http://buylevitra.net June Kent crops of asparagus and strawberries and cherries are delicious. Buying foods grown or produced close to home ensures you will be less likely to be contributing to rainforests being cleared to graze cattle for instance. As importantly it helps to maintain farm land and green spaces near to where you live. If the local farmers are unable to keep their farms viable then they may decide to sell up and it’s highly likely land will be bought by developers.



Faversham farmers' market, photos Vicky Ellis

Faversham farmers’ market, photos Vicky Ellis


Knowing where your food comes from and how it’s produced makes your meals more personal, the challenge of using seasonal fruit and veg in your recipes leads to more interesting mealtimes and buying locally keeps money spent local – supporting restaurants that use local produce, farmers markets and local cooperatives ensuring profits benefit producers rather than the big business supermarkets.

Faversham (21) Faversham (19)

For some, buying local can be an extremely social exercise, the sellers and producers end up on a first name basis and give a more personal service such as putting by that favourite variety of tomato for you.

So it’s not just an apple after all – it’s helping to preserve our way of life, the countryside we all love, that apple is contributing to supporting our local economy and even meeting likeminded people.

To find a farmers market near you http://www.kfma.org.uk/MarketCalendar.asp  to look for artisan producers and bespoke gifts http://www.producedinkent.co.uk/  for recipes using seasonal veg http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/seasons

June 20th 2016