VEGA News Item

Time to Think of Ordering Cob-nuts from Kent and East Sussex - 22/08/2008
Last year’s fine weather blessed organic growers in the traditional cultivation of cobnuts in the Kent and East Sussex with wonderful crops.
Last year’s fine weather blessed organic growers in the traditional cultivation of cobnuts in the Kent and East Sussex with wonderful crops. We welcomed this revival in the British industry of growing veggie alternatives to animal-based products that were losing their attraction for many reasons; notably the increasing efforts at cutting down on consumption of meat and animal-derived milks.

We were especially pleased because nut crops represent home-grown efforts offering attractive, home-grown alternatives singled out in our Green Plan for farming, food, health, and the land. And it was good, for once, to hear of and trade with happy British farmers. We donated bags of the nuts to various caterers and manufacturers as well as to other activists in the food industry, such as Deidre Hutton, chairperson of the Food Standards Agency.

But we have to quote from a letter from Jill Webb, Chief Nutter of Allens Farm in Plaxtol, Kent, that “sad to recall (and there is nothing so boring as a hard luck story
about money) the cost of labour had increased to the point to where our costs almost doubled and we ended up doing it all for love.” This has not been an unfamiliar situation in the harvesting of the very foods the FSA commends in the diet – fruit and veg, among which nuts may be included. We tried to persuade specialist manufacturers and retailers to promote sales of the nuts in the forms of butters, creams, and milks in foods once common in the health food trade. It is galling that the Nutrition Society’s financial support for presentations at its summer conference on the Portfolio of eating plans – meat-, milk-, and cruelty-free – was contributed by the almond growers of California.

Jill Webb explains the British nut-growers’ predicament. She appeals to loyal customers “to pay the increases we’ve had to apply.” The most time-consuming part of the process is the nut-sorting, “so if anyone knows how to improve the efficiency of the nut sorting process please let us know.”

“As we pick in advance of receiving orders we will only be picking what we expect to sell. We do welcome pick your own, by arrangement (phone:- 01732 812215)”, Jill Webb says. Londoners travelling to Kent, where there are several cobnut plats, will be reviving the exodus from the East End as hop and cobnut pickers congregated to bring in the harvests. Allens Farm is organic and has featured in Rick Stein’s Food Heroes.

Allens Farm hope to be dispatching nuts in their green state from the end of August to mid-September, and golden will be supplied thereafter, as crops run out. Dispatch will be likely within three days of the receipt of order.

The damson crop, like plums, has failed in Kent, so they won’t be available. We hope purchasers of the nuts will enjoy a treat this year and perhaps make a PYO party to join harvesters in a traditional experience of the countryside’s bounty. The address and other details of Allens Farm are:

Allens Farm,
Allens Lane, Plaxtol,
Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0QZ
Tel: 01732 812215
Fax: 01732 812219

And how about putting some nuts by for presents and Christmas?  

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© VEGA - 2008