Well – Is Local Better? Here’s what the locals had to say….

31st January 2012


This was the question of everyone’s lips last Thursday at Orchard Park, when their New Year events programme started with a fascinating evening of food, drink and debate.

Richard Cumming Managing Director of Orchard Park said “We wanted to offer our customers the opportunity to explore the issue and to show how local producers and local supermarkets need to work together.  This was illustrated by the menu we planned for the evening – which was a compliment of locally produced, locally sourced and not so local food and drink”.

On arrival guests were welcomed with a glass of vintage Cava which was kindly donated by Jamie Charrington-MacKenzie of Hicks & Don wine merchants,  or a glass of beer from the Keystone Brewery, then the panel of experts chaired by BVM editor Fanny Charles answered a series of questions from the audience that covered issues as diverse as how many people actually buy their weekly groceries from local producers and there was even a question close to Orchard Park’s heart when  the question “why more farmers do not rear traditional breeds if the meat is so superior?” fortunately Sheila Clarke of Lagan Farm was on hand and responded that ‘there has been an age of specialisation in Holstein cattle which produce a huge amount of milk, and Belgian Blues who produce large quantities of meat, however this is now changing with animals performing well on what the farmer can produce in a sustainable way with a move away from importing products such as soya and in turn reducing carbon footprint”

The illustrious panel included Charles Dowding a commercial vegetable grower and passionate campaigner for local produce, Jason Payne Manager of Asda, Gillingham, Charlie Turnbull of Turnbulls Deli and Shaftesbury Feastival, Jim Highnam MD of BV Dairy and Alasdair Large of Keystone Brewery.  All were delighted by the high standard of the questions asked and were certainly kept on their toes by the knowledgeable audience.

During the evening a carefully planned menu  was served including a delicious antipasti of olives from Olives Et Al, cheese from Longmans Dairy and Godminster  and award winning chutney from ‘Dorset with love’ . Anya of Orchard Park made blini’s which were topped with Mere smoked trout terrine.  Shaun Carthy, chef at OP made a mouth watering soup of Celeriac, spinach and horseradish which was followed by fillet of Irish Moiled beef from Lagan Farm with lentil du puy, prepared by Callum Keir of Holbrook House who, in the interval, gave a short cooking demonstration.  After a second round of questions, a not so local dessert was served of exotic fruits supplied by Asda which was complimented perfectly with a good serving of local clotted cream from BV dairy.

Mr Cumming said “We were overwhelmed by the interest in the evening and we have had some wonderful feedback from audience members and the panel and we hope that this will the first of many such events here at Orchard Park.

In fact Orchard Park have already planned a Gardeners Question Time on March 28th, please visit www.orchardpark.biz  or call 01747 835544 for further details