Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:
‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ so the old saying goes and we must not dismiss this as an old wives tale as apples contain lots of Vitamin C, vital for our good health.
Here in Kent there is a history of fruit production but modern living has cost our apple production dear. Supermarkets have imported apples from near and far, from France and New Zealand, and have neglected our home produced fruit. Local producers found that they could not sell their apples and orchards have been abandoned, but help is at hand with the Mid Kent Downs Orchards Project. This project has built a sustainable future for some traditional orchards, close to the village centres of Sheldwich, Milstead, Lenham and Stockbury.
The aim of this project is to involve whole communities in restoring their orchards to their former glory. Advice has been given to landowners, parishioners and volunteers through guidance notes and workshop training and has been received with enthusiasm, transferring new skills and expertise.
Farmers in other parts of the country are finding that they must diversify if they are to survive in the modern market and have planted orchards to grow apples to produce apple juice, made on their own farm and sold in the farm shop. The emphasis is on locally produced goods, sold locally.
It is important that we support our home producers as much as possible and we must demand that the supermarkets stock home produced goods and not settle for cheap imports. Fruit that has been imported from far away places such as the USA, Australia or New Zealand carries with it a heavy price in carbon emissions from the long distances that it has travelled. In the years to come, when oil is scarce and costly, we will need all the local food that we can grow. It is important that we start now to support our local food producers.
For more information go to www.kentdowns.org.uk/