Wimbledon and the strawberry business

Tennis competition and red fruit have an intrinsically linked history.

It’s part of Wimbledon folklore: the 30 tons of strawberries consumed each year at the London tournament have been produced in Kent by the same gardener for nearly 30 years. Hugh Lowe Farms is a family owned business located near Maidstone in the borough known as the Garden of England in southeast London.

Headed by Marion Regan, who now represents the third generation at the head of the farm, the company distributes 30 tons of strawberries during the thirteen days at the tennis temple, which doesn’t mean much compared to 5,000 in volume. Tons sold annually by Hugh Lowe Farms. But Marion Regan insists on the image importance of these deliveries.

For us, ordering Wimbledon is absolutely important, as it is a very high-end event where our strawberries are consumed by people from all over the world.“This exposure of their fruit inevitably makes farmers nervous. They also receive daily reports from the very elite All England Lawn and Tennis Club, which organizes the Grand Slam tournament on turf.

700 employees mobilized

In terms of food and drink, Wimbledon is a big event with great chefs and lots of people involved.“underlines the unwilling Marion Regan”to disappoint anyonewhen it comes to strawberry distribution. “It’s scary to depend on the weather and the whims of the marketFrom this point of view, he admits, recalling that the two weeks of the tournament tested his nerves in particular. Strawberries aren’t cheap, especially at Wimbledon.

In 2019, during the last edition canceled due to covid since 2020, but a craving for strawberries with a scoop of fresh cream cost £2.50 (3 euros) per ten. What consumers may not know is that strawberry picking is done by hand and requires an army of several hundred skilled people. The majority of the farm’s 700 employees are now dedicated from April to November. “The historical link (between Wimbledon and red fruit) is due to the peak of strawberry season being reached in June, when this season is very short. The mentality at that time was +enjoy while you can+.‘ says Marion Regan.

Effects of Brexit

His family called seasonal workers from Bulgaria and Romania for a long time. But with Brexit more recruitment was necessary and this year it is even recruiting collectors from Barbados. But his star picker is indeed Romanian. It must be said that Constantin Anghel has been coming for four seasons after being brought to the scene by a friend. He deftly moves between the rows, picking strawberries, placing the good ones on trays, and tossing the bad ones into a bucket attached to his car. He says that he collects an average of 40 kg of strawberries per hour.

Marion Regan says it’s a very talented job. It seems almost impossible when you start out, but every newcomer takes practice and time to get up to speed.“. “Achieving this level of efficiency takes a lot of experience.Adds Anghel. And even if they don’t dress in white like the Wimbledon players, Marion Regan sees a kind of rivalry in her collectors.

Picking strawberries, she points,It’s made for the competitive and sporty, because you measure your performance against your own goals and the results of other members of your team.“.

See also – Bake Chef Yann Couvreur’s strawberry and basil shortbread pie with us!

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