National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show Chairman Tom Hulme and his committee have had a radical rethink of the competition and how to make it fit for purpose for the industry.
Amongst the changes were a new venue, new judges and a rethink of classes and awards to reflect the varieties we grow now. The earlier date for the Kent Show was already causing problems to continue with tradition and the cancellation of the three-day Agricultural Show last year led to a Covid Special cut-down version of the NCSFS held at Mount Ephraim last July.
Cutting links with the Kent Show will allow for flexibility on timing. As Tom says “Given the ongoing restrictions around public spaces and social mixing we decided to take things in a different direction this year and were delighted that Macknade Fine Foods agreed to host the Show judging in the upstairs room of their busy farm shop at Faversham. This will ensure that we continue to spread the good word of our industry, its National Show and its grower entrants.”
Considering the season’s challenges Show Secretary Catherine Joules was pleased with the response from growers. “It’s been a bumper year for cherry entries in the chip basket classes because of the late season but we had less soft fruit entries”. The geographic spread of entries was as usual Kent-centric but as last year it was Ross on Wye fruit growers’ AC & CI Snell who gained first prize for all the Supermarket soft fruit classes, Best strawberries: Driscoll’s Zara, Best raspberries: Driscoll’s Maravilla and Victoria for Best blackberries. The farm was also awarded the Fruiterers’ Company Medal for the Most Meritorious exhibit of soft fruit.
As usual many of the first prizes for cherry classes went to the Brian Piper Partnership. They were awarded The Fruiterers’ Company Medal for the Most Meritorious exhibit of Cherries as well as seven other trophies including the JP Distributor’s Bowl for the highest points scored all classes. The Champion Basket of Cherries in the Show accolade went to A C Hulme & Sons.
Produced in Kent have organised the Taste of Kent Awards at the National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show since 2004 with four awards for Kent growers exhibiting fruit grown in Kent. Floortje Hoette from Produced in Kent together with this year’s Master of the Fruiterers Company, Faversham fruit grower David Simmons judged the entries. Winners this year were:
Cherries: AC Hulme & Sons with Penny;
Strawberries: R Boucher & Son with Driscoll’s Zara
Raspberries: J. Myatt and Co with Nobility.