A Norfolk asparagus grower whose produce was served at the Royal Wedding on Saturday has warned that without access to workers, his business could fail.
Protocol prevented Andy Allen from confirming that he had supplied asparagus to the Windsor kitchens, but a photograph on their website appeared to show bunches of his produce and he did not deny it.
However, he told The Guardian newspaper, “This is the best PR I could ever have had to be able to supply the royal kitchens and yet will I be able to continue to supply them? It is a huge privilege to be chosen, but it doesn’t help because who is going to pick the bloody stuff? We are completely reliant on seasonal migrant workers. If we can’t get that labour I’ll have to pack up. There is not the technology to pick asparagus with robots.”
He added that his concerns about finding workers had limited his area of the crop. Chief Executive of Concordia, which supplies labour to Mr Allen, Stephanie Maurel added: “The public voted to not have enough workers to pick fruit and veg in this country. They haven’t made the connection that 95% to 100% of British asparagus is picked by an eastern European. We have people who are keen to come; farmers who are desperate to have people pick their crops, and we just can’t bridge that gap and it is going to costs thousands in livelihoods.”
Photo Caption: Preparing asparagus in the Royal kitchens ahead of the wedding between Prince Harry and Megan Markle.
Photo Credit: www.royal.uk
The post Royal asparagus grower could fail appeared first on Hort News on 23 May 2018.
Geographical protection of products such as Vale of Evesham Asparagus, which is currently provided under the EU’s protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme, is expected to continue after Brexit according to MPs.
In answer to a question from Mid-Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston, Food Minister, George Eustice said that it is the Government’s intention to transfer the existing PGI legislation across into UK law.
According to the Evesham Journal, Mr Huddleston commented, “I was delighted to hear the minister confirm that it is his intention for the existing PGI designations to continue to be recognised post-Brexit and know that this will be welcome news to many of my constituents too. The granting of PGI status by the EU can make a real difference to regional products like Vale of Evesham Asparagus by boosting brand recognition and sales.
“Vale of Evesham Asparagus is a source of great local pride and I was pleased that the Minister spoke of its fantastic reputation both across the country and around the world.”
Photo Credit: Pexels
The post Geographical protection for asparagus to continue after Brexit appeared first on Hort News on 21 March
Reports from Germany suggest that automatic brassica harvesting, a long held dream for many in the industry, could be one step closer thanks to new work by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF and their colleagues at ai-solution GmbH together with five other partners.
They are working on a smart harvester which it is claimed will be as selective as human pickers. The so-called VitaPanther builds on the ‘Spargelpanther’ asparagus harvesting machine developed by a previous project, with the team aiming to complete a working prototype in time for next year (2017).
Fraunhofer IFF are working on hyper spectral camera technology and programming which will ensure that the machine picks the mature and ripe crops while ai-solution GmbH in Wolfsburg are working on the actual harvester unit.
Christian Bornstein, CEO of ai-solution GmbH, explained, “Our goal is to build a module that can be adapted to the existing unit.” Farmers will only have to purchase one “vegetable harvester” in the future.
Photo Caption: The ‘Spargelpanther’ asparagus harvester.
Photo Credit: ai-solution
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British asparagus growers have used a crowd-funding website to enable them to put on The Great British Asparagus Feast and, having reached their initial target of £7,000 are now aiming to raise a further £1,000.
The feast, which will be cooked by chefs Josh Eggleton, Jamie Randall and Seldon Curry, will be held near Temple Meads in Bristol next month and, according to the organisers, will be ‘a five course celebration of the short but oh so sweet British asparagus season!’
Asparagus grower Chris Chinn said, “This event is a terrific celebration of one of the country’s most special and precious seasonal crops. I’ll be joined by some of my fellow asparagus growers and several of the top chefs in the country for an asparagus feast.”
Chef Josh Eggleton added, “We’ll be celebrating British asparagus [with]a five or six course taster menu to celebrate the ingredient.”
Photo Caption: British Asparagus used Twitter to announce that it had reached its crowd funding target.
Photo Credit: British Asparagus
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A field of asparagus in Evesham is reportedly sprouting five months early due to the warm autumn weather.
According to newspaper reports, a single 600g bundle, which was grown by Mark Meadows, was sold for £24 at Evesham Auctions last Thursday (19 November) with the money raised going to charity. It was brought by farm shop owner Chris Groves who said he would share it with his wife.
He added, “All the old boys at the market, who have been growing asparagus in the Vale for decades all agreed it was the latest they had ever heard of. When it was brought to market everyone gathered around and agreed it had never been known.”
It is believed the plants had sprouted due to the recent mild weather, making it the earliest, or latest, crop recorded in the UK.
Photo Credit: Picserver
The post Warm autumn bringing forward UK asparagus appeared first on Hort News on 24 November 2015.
A new industry-funded joint project aims to increase the UK asparagus season.
Funded by Innovate UK, BBSRC and the asparagus industry, the £600,000 initiative is being led by Cranfield University, with partners Cobrey Farms and ICA (International Controlled Atmosphere).
“The project is about extending the storage life of UK asparagus by up to six weeks with innovative dynamically controlled atmosphere technology usually applied to apples,” explained Professor Leon Terry, who heads Cranfield University’s Soil and Agrifood Institute, adding that his 20-strong postharvest team is one of the largest in the EU. “We are basically transferring that technology to asparagus and using some of the knowledge acquired to extend the UK season.”
The project will investigate the feasibility of using ICA’s SafePod system, currently being trialled in the apple industry, on asparagus. “We’re investigating an idea and that doesn’t mean it’ll work, but if it does it will be fantastic – it will be a huge step forward,” said John Chinn of Cobrey farms which currently produces almost a third of the UK asparagus crop. “We know it works with apples and blueberries, but they have a low respiration rate in comparison with asparagus.”
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A robotic asparagus harvester with the potential to replace up to 10 pickers has been demonstrated in the Netherlands.
Developed by technology company Demcon as part of a project with Saxion college, the machine works by measuring the height of the spear above the top of the bed. The unit works the asparagus loose underground and pulls the spear out of the bed. Mounted on a trolley-like frame, the tractor keeps moving forward while the robot stops, harvests and then continues.
The machine covers around 1 hectare per hour and is expected to be commercially available in a couple years. Current costs are around €500,000 per machine.
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A new purple variety of asparagus which can be eaten raw has been trialled by Tesco from the end of April. The variety, Burgundine, is a purple and green cross and was grown by Cobrey farms in north Norfolk, specifically for use as a salad crop.
Burgundine will be sold exclusively by Tesco and the supermarket believes that the new variety could prove popular with office workers looking for a healthy lunchtime snack. The variety can be eaten raw after being washed because it contains slightly less lignin, the fibre element in asparagus.
Tesco produce buyer James Strathdee said, “The great thing about Burgundine asparagus is its versatility because it can be eaten both raw and also gently steamed or stir fried. It is an eye-catching variety that is exceptionally sweet, juicy, crunchy and great for eating with dips and in salads.
“English asparagus is acknowledged by foodies to be the best in the world because of our climate and soil, which supports perfect growing conditions. This is the first time that Burgundine asparagus has been commercially grown in the UK. If customers like it then we plan to grow more for next year.”
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