This year we have as packed a programme as ever. The show team are reporting the potential for record numbers of entries in the fruit competition, and as I write this we have 92 trade stands booked in.
Maria assures me that she could squeeze in a couple more small stands (she’ll be selling her office space again, you watch!) and we are delighted to welcome a number of new companies and also several who are returning. We are certain that we have a great show for all businesses whether you are a grower or one of the many excellent companies that support them.
Opening the show this year we have Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton. Most importantly for us, Neil is the chair of the House of Commons environment, food and rural affairs select committee. He is also the parliamentary private secretary to the minister of state for transport and a friend of our show president Michael Jack. Neil is a strong campaigner for British farmers and a great advocate for our industry.
A new novice class and trophy will be part of the schedule at this year’s show. Kindly sponsored by AC Goatham and Son the class will recognise a new entrant to the industry, good luck everyone. And while I remember, for everyone as they prepare to pack their fruit for showing, please read the guidelines very carefully. There is a right and a wrong way to present the fruit and the judges have asked that we remind you which is the right way (please read your show schedule, Norma has written clear guidance). There will be a degree of leniency this time, but not much.
I hope you get a chance to admire the lovely new boxes that you will be packing your fruit into. Thanks, as always, to the wonderful team at Produce Packaging for their sponsorship and diligence in producing such good boxes for the exhibition fruit.
Please keep your eyes out for several technical launches at the show. All our agronomy partners are showcasing advances in predictive tools for weather, pest and diseases and there will also be some interesting new pieces of machinery to admire too.
As you are aware we always take the exhibition fruit away the weekend following the show. This year we are going to a number of venues, sharing out the fruit. Some is going to Nobel House, the home of DEFRA, for national apple day. We are part of the DEFRA healthy harvest festival with the NFU Horticultural board, AHDB Potatoes, McCains and other representative bodies. The festival is aimed at all the relevant government directorates. We are anticipating around 500 people from various departments visiting Nobel House throughout the day. Some of the fruit is going to the Kentish Town city farm for their apple festival, some will be delivered by Jamie and the South East Farmer Landrover to important addresses throughout the city and the remainder will be going to the Canterbury Diocese food project. The fruit locally will be distributed between Kent Community Chef, who work with young adults and community groups to cook together and learn new skills as well as building community in eating together.
The rest of the fruit will be going to FareShare Kent who distribute fresh food to local community cafes and organisations such as Pilgrims Hospice to enable them to use fresh produce.
All that remains for me to say is that I hope I see you at our wonderful show. It is packed with innovation, new varieties, new technology and above all, the people who matter.