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The English Apple Man


10th Jul 2020 - Wimbledon and Strawberries & Cream

We are now in Wimbledon Fortnight!


No Tennis but plenty of re-runs of past great matches on BBC TV.


Wimbledon and Strawberries are synonymous during the All England Championships.


Strawberries have been a part of ancient Europe since time immemorial, as they were mostly consumed to help with labour pains and help prevent bad breath.


Legend has it that Thomas Wolsey first served the combination of strawberries and cream back in 1509 in a banquet.


Cream was a part of the diet of the peasants, not the aristocrats, and strawberries and cream can be seen as amalgamation that brought together the rich and the poor.


For the last 27 years, Wimbledon strawberries have been 'exclusively' supplied by Marion Regan and Hugh Lowe Farms.

The first Wimbledon played at The All England Club was held in 1877.


The 1877 Wimbledon Championship was a men's tennis tournament held at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club ( AEC & LTC) in Wimbledon, London.


Following the announcement that Wimbledon is cancelled, Hugh Lowe Farms has produced a statement:


Strawberries and cream have been associated with Wimbledon since its 1877 inception, and 140 years later, the snack food has stuck. Served at counters at the All-England Tennis Club since, strawberries and cream are synonymous with the tournament.


But where did that association begin?


Johnny Perkins, the PR head of All England Club explains that strawberries were always in the season when the Wimbledon was played, and it was a part of the culture of Victorian England to enjoy strawberries, and it was considered to be a fashionable ritual back then, as it went well with the afternoon tea.


Hugh Lowe Farms has supplied The Championships for over 25 years. The visitors to Wimbledon eat over 30 tonnes of strawberries over the fortnight.


Below: Marion Regan - Managing Director of Hugh Lowe Farms



Hugh Lowe Farms is a family run soft fruit grower established over 125 years ago located in Mereworth in Kent, the Garden of England. The farm produces over 5,000 tonnes of fresh berries a year between April and November.


Marion Regan, Managing Director of Hugh Lowe Farms, comments on the cancellation of The Championships, Wimbledon this year:


"Obviously, we are disappointed that The Championships is cancelled but we feel it is a sensible decision. Our thoughts are with the teams of workers involved at AELTC and, of course, the players who have worked and trained so hard already.


"At Hugh Lowe Farms we are committed to growing and harvesting a great crop of English strawberries this year. We can only make some minor adjustments to our cropping plan on the farm at this stage, but strawberries are such a quintessential summer fruit we are hopeful that the demand will be boosted in other ways during that fortnight.


"We can assure our customers that none of our fruit will go to waste. The demand for fresh fruit in shops seems very likely to be far higher this year in light of the current coronavirus crisis. Certainly, strawberries are part of a healthy diet, and many are looking to improve their eating habits in these difficult times.


"We plan to increase our supply not just to the supermarkets, but also to local farm shops and independent stores who are working so hard to feed our rural communities.


"We also have arrangements with local schools and a London food bank and through this and other donations, we will make sure nothing goes to waste. It's more important now than ever we all look after one another.



"On a personal note, we are secretly hopeful that the BBC airs re-runs of the fantastic tennis we've seen at Wimbledon in recent years - or even some classic matches from past eras - during 'Wimbledon fortnight' this year. Then, notwithstanding the tribulations, people will be able to enjoy the summer wherever we are by then - and hopefully eat plenty of fresh strawberries!"


Below: Hugh Lowe Farms - Wimbledon Strawberries for local schools and London food bank



Below: left; glasshouse strawberry production and right; harvesting table top strawberries




On Monday, BBC's the One Show featured a visit to Marion Regan at Hugh Lowe Farms, where presenter Richie Anderson joined Marion for a spot of strawberry picking (don't give up the day job Richie) followed by a 'Mini Wimbledon' at nearby Mereworth School.



Mini Wimbledon at Mereworth CP School


Teachers at Mereworth CP School recreated Wimbledon for the enjoyment of its year six pupils last week.


The sporting event attracted the attention of BBC's The One Show and presenter Richie Anderson who was thrilled to be a part of event. The children even enjoyed real Wimbledon strawberries donated by nearby soft fruit grower, Hugh Lowe Farms.


A mini centre court was constructed from hazard tape and a covered stand for the pupil spectators was erected in the middle of the playing field. It was a very warm day as the teachers nervously awaited the call. The Head Teacher, Amanda Lavelle, strictly umpired the match from her raised chair as the year 6 staff played a nail-biting match. The spectators, children from classes 6A and 6B, enthusiastically supported their own teachers, as the film cameras rolled.


During the break, copious amounts of strawberries were devoured by the grateful pupils who agreed that they were the tastiest they had ever experienced. BBC presenter Richie Anderson interviewed the children about the fruit. The children unanimously agreed the tennis was excellent and the strawberries were the sweetest they had ever tasted.


Richie continued to provide a running commentary as the teachers concluded the match and the umpire announced the winners.


Head Teacher Amanda Lavelle commented, "We wanted to give the year six pupils something really wonderful to remember us by. We are so proud of how all of our pupils have handled the complications of the past few months.


This was a really special occasion. It is such a pleasure to support nearby soft fruit grower, Hugh Lowe Farms that work so closely with our school. They have grown the strawberries for Wimbledon for 26 years, and this mini Wimbledon took the honours as the 27th occasion....minus the superstars and the prize money!"


Hugh Lowe Farms has supplied The Championships for 26 years. The visitors to Wimbledon eat over 30 tonnes of strawberries over the fortnight. Hugh Lowe Farms is a family run soft fruit grower established over 125 years ago located in Mereworth in Kent, the Garden of England. The farm produces over 5,000 tonnes of fresh berries a year between April and November.


Below: left to right; Sharon Saunders, Kate Maryon, Richie Anderson, Amanda Lavelle, Dylan Salter, Liz Griffiths, Kath Delaney.



In conversation with The English Apple Man on Monday and reviewing the 'no Wimbledon and hot weather experienced early this summer, Marion Regan commented:


"We are finding there is good demand for strawberries - offset by the cooler weather meaning there is no 'glut' of fruit contrary to the story being put about by the media. Wimbledon have thoughtfully taken some strawberries to distribute to key workers but the vast majority of our fruit is finding a ready market amongst our usual customers, and through the increased demand from local sales.


We are being featured on The One Show tonight - as well as our local school and Spadework the farm shop, so hopefully people will continue to enjoy strawberries while watching some of the great tennis matches of the past!"


The Visit to Hugh Lowe Farms can be found on the BBC iPlayer - The One Show Monday 6th July. The video is circa 20 minutes into the show. "Well worth watching"




The English Apple Man highlights the Next Generation.


Marion Regan's daughter Amelia McLean has joined her mother in the family business.


Kent soft-fruit grower Hugh Lowe Farms has appointed Amelia McLean, daughter of eminent grower Marion Regan, as a director.


Amelia said: "I've been steeped in soft-fruit growing all my life and am excited by the possibilities for growth, innovation and collaboration in our sector."


Below: left; Amelia McLean and right; Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries grown at Hugh Lowe Farms



For the story of Hugh Lowe farms click on: HUGH LOWE FARMS


That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man