A few weeks ago Gloucester Services food buyer Alex contacted us to say that one of our local producers, Bentley’s Castle Fruit Farm, were interested in talking to us about getting involved with the work GGT do. Bentley’s are a locally based family run fruit farm in Newent, and the Gloucester Services Farmshop sell their locally grown apples, pears and plums as well as their fantastic juices.
Bentley's Castle Fruit Farm like many of our suppliers are a family owned business with strong community values so the conversations that followed were met with energy, warmth and enthusiasm. We quickly realised after talking to Chrissy who runs the farm with her husband Michael, that they had apples and pears that due to the their size they were unable to sell to supermarkets and they were keen to work with us to distribute the fruit to others. We suggested that we could distribute them through the community food cupboards so people can access the fruit for free. The following week it was in action with Bentley’s locally grown fruit going out with the surplus from the Farmshop.
To keep the connection going, Chrissy kindly offered to host a few of GGT's Community Partners to go and see how the farm is run. Volunteers and colleagues came from GL Communities and Fair Shares and we were met with apple and ginger juice and a basket different varieties of apples and pears to try. Chrissy talked about the history of the farm and how it’s more important than ever to buy local and not to judge an apple by it’s appearance. We tasted Jazz apples, Smitten, Elstar and Ashmead Kernel and talked about how consumers often want beautifully coloured red apples but in reality the best one’s were not the “perfect” apples that you see on adverts or in cookery books.
The group also had the chance to pick jazz apples which were not the right grade for supermarkets, using the pickers basket and were taught the best method of harvesting. We finished the morning with a lovely apple cake and hot drinks.
Chrissy said: "It was our pleasure to welcome you and meet your colleagues who clearly work hard to make a difference in their communities. So valuable always but particularly at the moment when so many are facing so many challenges."
We had a fantastic day, learnt so much about the highs and lows of running a family orchard and were met with such a warm welcome that we are already talking about what we can do together next. The apples which we picked were distributed back into the local community and that takeaway message to spread was, just like a book and it's cover, don’t judge an apple by its appearance.