The Taste of Kent Awards 2020, organised by Produced in Kent, have begun with the first category, the Garden of England Champion tastiest soft fruit and cherry, judged at the National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show at the Kent County Show, Friday 5 July.

Judged on taste alone by both professionals from the industry and members of the public the winning varieties and growers for this year are:

Class 60 Cherries
AC Hulme & sons, Hoaden, Ash near Canterbury
Variety Van

Class 70 Strawberries
B R Brooks & Son Goodnestone, Faversham
Variety Katina

Class 80 Raspberries
J Myatt & Co Rochester
Variety Tulameen

Class 90 Blackberries
Clock house farm Ltd Coxheath
Variety Victoria

Sponsored by the Kent County Agricultural Society, this category showcases Kent’s tastiest soft fruits. Lucy Hegarty, show manager from the Kent County Agricultural Society said: “We are delighted to be supporting this award. Strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blackberries are the distinctive flavours of a British summer. The National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show is a key part of the Kent County Show and it is always interesting to see which entries are the winners on just taste alone, as all of the entries look magnificent.”

Tom Hulme, chairman of the National Cherry and Soft Fruit show said: “The NCSFS is very pleased that our involvement with Produced in Kent and The Taste of Kent Awards continues to go from strength to strength. We are delighted that in 2018 a Blackberry class was added to the existing Strawberry, Cherry and Raspberry classes. These four TOKA categories, which are for Kent growers only, really catch the imagination of our growers and the public alike and we look forward to developing ‘The Garden of England Champion’ classes into the future.

Stephanie Durling at Produced in Kent said: “We would like to congratulate this year’s winners. Each year the Garden of England Champion Soft Fruit awards kicks off the Taste of Kent Awards with the most delicious range of soft fruit and cherries. All the displayed fruit looked fantastic and tasted delicious, so it was a difficult decision for the judges to make. Kent is renowned for producing excellent soft and stoned fruit and our awards aim to showcase the great tastes and flavours of Kent throughout the seasons. It is so important for Produced in Kent to ensure that Kent growers are highlighted through these awards as we continue to demonstrate Kent’s fabulous fruit heritage”

The Taste of Kent Awards now in their sixteenth year are recognised as the outstanding annual showcase for Kent food and drink producers. The awards promote a wide range of categories and are open to food and drink businesses county-wide. ublic voting in the campaign opens on 18 September until early January and will see thousands of votes being cast for everyone’s favourites. The awards demonstrate that many more consumers are choosing to support local businesses by buying Kent products and produce. If Kent residents spent just 10% of their weekly shopping budget buying something local from Kent, which is easily achievable, this can contribute in excess of £175M to the Kent economy. As the country continues to wait for Brexit, it is all the more important to support all our Kent growers and independent businesses. Food & drink brings £1.2Bn to the Kent and Medway economy and employs around 23,000 people.

The winning growers will formally receive their award at the Taste of Kent Awards Gala dinner, which takes place on 5 March 2020 at the Kent Event Centre, Detling.

Pictured: Tom Hulme, chairman of National Cherry Soft Fruit Show and Lucy Hegarty, Kent County Agricultural Society who sponsor this Taste of Kent Awards category