The gardens and horticulturists at Wakehurst Place are being put to good use by the Ampersand team to produce delicious, seasonal, home-grown fruit and vegetables for the dishes and desserts on the venue café and restaurant menus.
The fresh fruit and vegetable initiative has seen part of the gardens exclusively put aside for growing ingredients to be used by the Ampersand culinary team. The raised beds and bountiful poly tunnel have already delivered a harvest of tomatoes, mixed leaves, herbs and strawberries that have delighted the taste buds of visitors. The strawberry harvest was especially successful and ‘Strawberry Tables’ featuring an array of cakes, eclairs and biscuits, proudly displaying the sign ‘Strawberries grown at Wakehurst Place’, have been enjoyed at Wakehurst and other Ampersand sites. The first season of the initiative has proved so successful that Ampersand and the gardening team are looking to make it a year-round project. The squashes, for example, are already in the ground ready for autumn harvest and fruit trees have been planted, with first fruits expected in the next couple of years. Phil Baker, general manager for Ampersand at Wakehurst Place, comments: “It’s great that we’re working in partnership with the gardeners at Wakehurst Place to bring home-grown fruit and vegetables to our menus. We’re passionate about using seasonal and local produce, and it really doesn’t get more seasonal or local than this. “Our first summer harvest was modest but absolutely delicious. We’re now looking forward to boosting our home-grown offer season by season and year by year. The horticultural team is right behind the initiative and as demands grows, we could be looking at increasing the size of the Ampersand allotment and its yield. Watch this growing space!”