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Taste of Kent has inspired whole nation

Government wants Britain to copy county ‘10 per cent local’ food campaign

LOCAL DELICACY: Wild bread on sale at a farmers’ market in Faversham
LOCAL DELICACY: Wild bread on sale at a farmers’ market in Faversham

A SCHEME to encourage people in Kent to buy more local food and drink has influenced the Government to start its own campaign to persuade people to buy local. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson MP told a conference of food producers in Oxford that Britain needs to make the most of its “top class production on home soil” rather than continuing to import 24 per cent of its food. The call comes as Produced in Kent, a company set up by Kent County Council and Hadlow’s agricultural college to promote local produce, gets its “ten per cent local” campaign under way.

Buying

It aims to get shoppers, businesses, schools, hospitals — anyone buying food — to make sure at least ten per cent of it is produced locally. Kent is well-known for its produce in horticultural and agricultural sectors. The Kent Farmers’ Market Association (KFMA) is the largest regional grouping of farmer’s markets and organises almost 1,000 markets a year in more than 40 locations. Food markets play a vital role in sustaining local businesses and supporting independent producers. They have been shown to increase takings by as much as 30 per cent. The numerous benefits to supporting food markets include keeping money within the local community, encouraging organic food production and reducing pollution produced by importing goods. KCC’s member responsible for rural affairs, Sean Holden, said it was backing Produced in Kent’s “ten per cent local” campaign, adding:

“It’s no accident the minister picked out Kent. We must all value what we have. Buying local is the healthy, safe option after scandals like the horse meat saga. You know where Kent food comes from. Choosing it boosts local jobs.”

A FRESH PERSPECTIVE: Buying food from local markets is a healthier choice and supports your community
A FRESH PERSPECTIVE: Buying food from local markets is a healthier choice and supports your community

Local food producers are also being celebrated with the Taste of Kent awards. The annual event, run by Produced in Kent, had some 500 businesses nominated for the clutch of awards. The winners will be announced at an awards dinner at the Kent County Showground on March 13. Stephanie Durling, of Produced in Kent, said:

“Thousands of people once again took part in the voting this year and in this our tenth year, we are delighted that nearly 500 local businesses across the county were nominated for the awards. Some categories in particular such as Best Kentish Beer, Kent Butcher or Meat Producer, Kent Restaurant of the Year and Kent Local Food Retailer have seen a significant increase in votes and nominations.”

Tickets for the dinner and awards ceremony are available from Produced in Kent at www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk

The Garden of England

KENT is often referred to as The Garden of England so here we look at reasons why we should keep up our farming traditions…

  • The South East has been shaped by farming for generations. About 70 per cent of our land is cultivated for farming.
  • Farmers and growers produce almost three-quarters of the foods that can be produced in our climate, for example, eggs, cereals and apples.
  • Approximately 10 per cent of the UK’s farms can be found in the South East.
  • The South East provides more than 50,000 jobs in the agriculture sector.
  • The rural tourism sector is dominated by local food and drink, bringing in about £1 billion every year and providing 40,000 jobs.
  • Every 100 hectares of crops can soak up between 30 and 60 tonnes of carbon per year.
  • Two-thirds of the South East’s agricultural land is covered by green farming schemes.
  • Kent produces 49.5 per cent more fruit than any other county in the UK on average, with a high proportion of that being apples.
  • A massive 90 per cent of English cherries are grown in Kent.

Food hall could be picked again

PROUD OWNER: Stefano Cuomo
PROUD OWNER: Stefano Cuomo

MACKNADE Fine Foods, of Faversham, is in the running for Kent Local Food Retailer of the Year in the Taste of Kent Awards 2014. The food hall consists of a shop, café, fishmonger and wine bar which has proved extremely popular with the community. Along with other awards, it has already won Kent Local Food Retailer of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Game for Everything, one of the UK’s premier catering companies specialising in cooking game, says:

“Macknade Fine Foods has a very well-earned reputation for supplying the highest quality ingredients at the most reasonable price.”

Macknade Fine Foods started life as Fir Tree Farm, a tent in 20 hectares of “pick your own’ crops”, but now it is the gem of Faversham and has even expanded to a second smaller shop in West Street, Faversham. Stefano Cuomo, who owns the business, said:

“I believe Faversham (importantly I include our villages as well) will be an example of how modern Britain can look. A town taking pride in its rich heritage while forward facing, with a sincere functioning centre that satisfies locals and visitors alike and a cohesive and vibrant social, retail and creative scene interlinked and acting as one.”

Keeping it in the family business

DUNN GOOD: Chandler and Dunn sausages
DUNN GOOD: Chandler and Dunn sausages

FAMILY-RUN farming and fruit growing business Chandler and Dunn, based just outside Canterbury, has been nominated for Kent Butcher or Meat Producer of the Year in the Taste of Kent Awards 2014. The farm has been running for generations and now consists of 200 hectares of land for fruit picking, 200 hectares of Arable land and 200 hectares of grassland grazed by cattle and sheep. Chandler and Dunn aim to produce quality products that can be sold locally providing consumers with local sourced food with known roots. The company has a pedigree Sussex herd of cattle, comprising 90 single suckler cows. Most of the produce is sold from their butcher’s shop at Goldstone Farm, near Ash. Regarding their meat, Chandler and Dunn say:

“We like to think that farming is more than just long-term economics, government strategies or EEC policies. Our two families have an agricultural tradition in the area that’s now into its 5th generation — and with seven members actively involved in the business there’s also a great future ahead. Currently that’s a combination of more than 270 years of hard learned, hands-on experience!”

Farm sells own cider

NOMINATED for Best Kentish Cider or Perry is Pine Trees Farm in Doddington for its Duddas Tun Cider. The 50-acre farm is run by father and son team Kevin and Robert Payne. The farm specialises in apples, plums and cherries and also produces cider, apple juice, jams and chutneys. The business has recently started selling its own products rather than just bulk sales and says this “addresses the recent problem of ever-increasing haulage and packaging costs which leaves the farmer with an extremely small profit margins”.

Juice firm recognised in first year

NEWLANDS Juices in Faversham has also received a Taste of Kent awards nomination. The business has been growing apples for more than 70 years at the family farm but ventured into producing its own apple juice just last year. The firm is in the running for Best Kent Juice Producer. Tom Boucher, of Newlands Juices, said:

“We are delighted to be nominated for a Taste of Kent award. Our family has been growing apples at Newlands farm, near Faversham for more than 70 years but 2013 has been our fIrst year of producing our own apple juice. We are very proud of our Kentish identity and believe the Garden of England has some of the finest fresh produce and artisan producers in the country. Buying local should be at the forefront of shopper’s minds and with such fantastic seasonal produce coming from all over Kent, all year round, it’s easy to do so.”

Take a butcher’s at who’s been nominated

SHORTLISTED: Butchers Paul Barkaway and his dad Chris
SHORTLISTED: Butchers Paul Barkaway and his dad Chris

AJ BARKAWAY is also in the running for the best butcher prize in the 2014 Taste of Kent Awards. The butchers, in West Street, Faversham, regularly visit farmers’ markets across the county with their meat and pies. Chris Barkaway, of AJ Barkaway said:

“We are chuffed to be shortlisted again and the good thing is that it is voted for by the customers. We have recently agreed to worn with a farm in Stockbury near Maidstone so now 80 per cent of our meat comes from our farm there which is good for traceability and reducing food miles. People are more interested than ever before about where their food comes from.”

Couple thrilled to be on shortlist for award

TOP SHOP: Steve Jones of Whitstable Produce Store
TOP SHOP: Steve Jones of Whitstable Produce Store

WHITSTABLE Produce Store in Harbour Street has been selected as one of the top three food retailers in the county as part of the 2014 Taste of Kent Awards. Amanda and Steve Jones opened the shop in December. The couple had launched their business as a juice bar, 63 Harbour Street, before deciding to move to larger premises two years later. Amanda said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to reach the finals of the Taste of Kent Awards this year. It was great to be in the Top 10 last year but this is much more exciting and we’re very grateful to Produced in Kent for coping with the fact that we moved in the middle of the voting period. Opening the Whitstable Produce Store has meant that we can increase our range — we’re now working with 16 suppliers from Kent including Whitstable’s Key Richardson (fruit and veg), Virginle’s of Whitstable, the Whitstable Picnic Hamper Company and Herbaceous. We’d love to win for Whitstable but right now it’s just fantastic to be a finalist and we’re so grateful to everyone who voted for us.”

The winners will be announced at a ceremony later this year.

Brewers in with a Goody chance of winning

GOODY ALES: Karen Goody and her partner Peter McCabe
GOODY ALES: Karen Goody and her partner Peter McCabe

GOODY Ales of Herne has been nominated for the prestigious Best Kentish Beer award in the Taste of Kent Awards 2014. The brewers first-ever beer to be made at Bleangate Brewery, Genesis, won The Best Hopped Ale in Kent award last year. The ruby-coloured hoppy ale with a lasting bitter finish continues to be one of the brewery’s most popular brews. The company uses traditional methods to create all their ales. Karen Goody, co-founder of Goody Ales says:

“We are delighted to be in the final three of the Best Beer in Kent.”

Karen is passionate about the benefits of beer and hopes to encourage more women to try real ale. The former business studies teacher said:

“It is a male-dominated industry and for some reason, ale has had an image problem with women. Beer is less calorific than wine and it’s full of goodness with no additives. Kent has a history of producing world class hops and brings with it a host of experience and expertise. Hops from different parts of the world have their place In the beer market but we use Kent hops because we want to be part of keeping the Kent heritage alive.”

Herne Bay Times, January 16th 2014

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