Using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible in its pub dishes is just one of the ways Shepherd Neame strives to keep sustainability at its heart.
A recent visit by the Faversham-based brewer and pub company’s Food Team to long-serving fruit supplier Clock House Farm in Coxheath, Maidstone, highlights this desire to keep things local.
Shepherd Neame has been working with fellow independent family firm Clock House Farm, which also supplies national retailers such as Tesco and Marks and Spencer, for more than 25 years.
Founded in 1903, and now farming some 300 hectares just outside Maidstone, the team typically grow and sell 4 million punnets of strawberries, 8 million punnets of raspberries, 4.5 million punnets of blackberries, 7 million packs of apples and 500,000 punnets of plums each year.
But despite this huge output, the business shares Shepherd Neame’s commitment to sustainability – and has made some groundbreaking moves to incorporate this into its operations.
Managing Director, Oli Pascall, said: “Sustainability is a cornerstone of how we operate as a farm. We have implemented some really leading technology, including investing in the rollout of a £10m renewable energy heated soft fruit growing system designed to produce fruit outside of the UK growing season whilst focusing on our environmental footprint. It has involved investing in technology that can source the heat required from the nearby River Medway, and is among the most significant investments in green energy for soft fruit in the UK.
“We have been proud to work with Shepherd Neame for the past decade. They have always been committed to supporting local growers and using local produce. It is great for our team members to be able to actually go into one of their pubs locally and see our fruit being served.”
Several of Shepherd Neame’s Chef Apprentices were among those to visit Clock House Farm.
Head of Food, Sang Nguyen said: “As part of their training, we take our apprentices to visit suppliers so they can really get to know their ingredients. Seeing where the produce comes from helps when they get into the kitchen as it provides inspiration to create delicious dishes.”
The team got to see strawberries, blackberries and apples growing and being picked on the farm, which are used in many of their dishes being served up for customers, such as Clock House Farm Strawberry & Cherry Eton Mess, on offer at the newly reopened Duke of Cumberland at Whitstable.
Also coming this autumn will be the Cox Apple Tarte Tatin, which will be available in many of Shepherd Neame’s managed pubs from the end of September.
Sang added: “We are lucky enough to have this fantastic produce on our doorstep here in the Garden of England, so we want to showcase it on our menu with delicious seasonal specials.”
Other local producers Shepherd Neame works with are RJ Kingsland & Son based in Maidstone, a family-run business who have been supplying locally grown fruit and vegetables to the company for more 20 years, and the award-winning Cheesemakers of Canterbury, whose Ashmore Farmhouse cheese is used in the recently introduced Cheese and Tomato Pizza on its Menu for Minis. The majority of Shepherd Neame’s fish also comes from Kent supplier Chapmans.
Sang added: “We work with a hand-picked network of farmers, fishermen and food producers throughout Kent and the South East to ensure that only the best, sustainable fresh ingredients are used in our dishes. Focusing on local produce not only results in a reduction of food miles, but ensures that we can be confident that we are offering the best dining experience possible.”
To learn more about Shepherd Neame’s local suppliers, visit https://www.shepherdneame.co.uk/local-food-heroes
To find out about Shepherd Neame apprenticeships visit https://www.shepherdneame.co.uk/careers/shepherd-neame-chef-apprenticeships
About Shepherd Neame
Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire Amber, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including premium Thai lager Singha. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.
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