Cranstons connect with local vegetable growers through Home Grown Here initiative
Cranstons are offering customers at the Cumbrian Food Hall an exciting new range of vegetables grown in county. Thanks to the support of a new ‘Home Grown Here’ initiative several Cumbrian farmers have dedicated acres of their land to growing fruit and vegetables this year for the first time, offering Cranstons a tasty range of produce fresh from the fields.
Home Grown here is the brainchild of the Eden-based growers’ co-operative VistaVeg, and is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership’s ambitious emission-reduction programme to make Cumbria carbon neutral by 2037
Lynn Barnes of VistaVeg says, “Cumbria has long had an enviable array of local meats, cheeses, preserves, artisan pies, baking, confectionery and drinks, but very few fruit and vegetable producers. And it’s not because you can’t grow fruit and vegetables in Cumbria – you really can! This project aims to offer something new to the local supply chain, making it much easier for Cumbrian businesses and ultimately residents and visitors to source locally-grown fruit and vegetables.”
Following a call-out to the local farming community earlier this year, 26 farmers and growers expressed an interest in growing at least one edible acre over the next five seasons. Four farms were selected to begin sowing this spring, with another scheduled to plant fruit trees this winter. A total of 17 acres has been brought into first-time vegetable production during 2021.
Keeping home grown produce here in the county will offer Cumbrian’s a host of delicious benefits. It will reduce food miles, encourage people to eat seasonally, involve less processing and packaging, and reduce waste by picking to order and re-using boxes.
Cranstons buyer Caroline Dinham who recently visited Challon Hall farm, Crooklands to meet new grower Derek Clark and a fellow grower Richard Crayston says the local produce is proving a real hit with customers ‘So far we have been able to offer our customers Carrots from Challon Hall, Crooklands, Peas from Aikbank, Calthwaite, Beetroot from Lowergate Farm, Morland and Courgettes, mange tout, turnips & cucumbers from VistaVeg at Crosby Ravensworth. We hope the scheme goes from strength to strength and more farmers come on board, we would love to offer Home Grown Here produce at our other sites too’’
Amanda Spencer, Cranstons sales assistant says ‘’Sales have been really strong as the produce is superb quality and really fresh, our customers are relishing the opportunity to buy local. The display looks so appealing and it’s great to be able to stock more local vegetables as people come to Cranstons for local , it’s been a long term frustration that supplies of Cumbrian fruit and vegetables are so limited’’
Richard Crayston who farms at Gascow farm Ulverston said ‘’We have been growing potatoes on our farm since 2012 but this scheme has given us the confidence to start growing carrots, this initiative supports us in finding markets for our produce, as a farmer it exciting to be speaking directly to buyers like Caroline who have a real appetite for selling local’’.
Derek Clark who farms at Challon Hall, Crooklands and is a first time grower said ‘’I am the third generation to farm here and the main output of the farm is beef cattle, we are really pleased to be involved in the Home Grown Here scheme and to be diversifying into carrot and potato crops for the first time’’.
The intention is for Home Grown Here to evolve into a grower’s co-operative to provide advice, skills-sharing and networking opportunities to its grower members, a tool ring to share equipment, bulk purchasing of seed, plants and soil testing, personalised branding, and a route to local market for crops via online ordering on the website.
Home Grown here vegetables are available from Thursday- Saturday each week at the Cumbrian Food Hall.