Behind the scenes with our strawberry grower

Nothing tastes like summer more than a big bowl of strawberries. Whether you love them dipped in sugar, swimming in cream or turned into jam for a delicious afternoon tea, this seasonal treat is one of the best things about the British summer. 

With a short fruiting time and a love for sunny weather, these fragile fruits need to be well cared for. We source ours from John Downes and his team at Bradon Farm in Somerset. They have been specialising in strawberries since 2018 and by using the latest technology, they have developed some innovative and sustainable growing techniques.

A greener future

In 2021, Bradon Farm invested in energy efficient LED lighting that helps them to increase the yield of their plants, providing us with even more locally-grown strawberries.

Bradon Farm is also working towards net zero carbon emissions through measures including the installation of a biomass boiler to provide renewable heating. All gas used also comes from renewables, which means the entire site is powered by sustainable sources. 

Their mission is to be at the forefront of sustainability and even have plans to develop a research centre dedicated to driving new innovation in the farming sector.

Did you know? 

As strawberries are harvested by hand, the plants are grown in beds that are raised to shoulder height. This helps the team harvest quickly and effectively without having to constantly bend down. Very useful when you consider John’s main greenhouse is home to around 240,000 strawberry plants! 

The history of the humble strawberry

Strawberries have been growing in British hedgerows and woodlands for centuries but during the Tudor period, people believed that raw fruits were dangerous, so they were typically cooked with wine and spices to counter any ill-effects!

American varieties were brought to our shores in the 16th century and by the 19th century, larger and juicier fruits were being produced, gaining the reputation that they enjoy today. 

Our strawberries are the Chilton Centenary variety – a traditional English strawberry with impeccable taste, flavour, aroma and colour. 

Did you know?

An enormous 140,000 portions of strawberries are served every year at Wimbledon.

Strawberry sensations

Looking for some recipe inspiration? For a classic summer pudding, try James Strawbridge’s Elderflower Eton Mess (pictured) or for a unique main course, how about Turbot with Strawberry Salad? This is an unusual pairing that makes the most of sweet strawberries and allows the meaty turbot to take on some delicious summer flavours. 

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