The Watercress Company with farms in Dorset and Hampshire is continuing its winning streak as it received a Heroes of Fresh Produce Award from the industry’s primary title, Fresh Produce Journal (FPJ). This comes close on the heels of the news that the watercress grower has been shortlisted for an Award from the Food & Drink Federation.
The Heroes of Fresh Produce Awards celebrate the extraordinary efforts of the UK produce industry during the Coronavirus Pandemic in continuing to put fruit and veg on the nation’s tables and for donating food to those that need it most. Nominated by the industry and judged by the FPJ’s team of journalists there were 10 Heroes of Fresh Produce in total, ranging from companies to individuals who were deemed to have made a positive difference.
For The Watercress Company it was very much a team effort which their acceptance video clearly demonstrated.
Tom Amery, MD of The Watercress Company said: “I’m extremely proud of the whole business. They worked so hard to keep the supermarket shelves stocked but were also eager to help with our community support. We love being able to help our community and are so proud of how all the staff responded by not only helping locally but all over the country.”
The Watercress Company has supplied over 30,000 free bags of watercress to key workers at the Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester. Doctors, nurses, cleaners, porters, anyone keeping the hospital running through the height of the pandemic was able to grab a free bag to eat as a healthy snack or to add to a meal.
Beth Cooke, Lead Occupational Therapist on the Stroke Unit at the hospital said: “With limited time to eat, having free watercress on tap was a godsend. It can quickly be added to your usual sandwich to give it a boost and make it more satisfying and filling. And you know you’re doing yourself a whole lot of good.”
The Watercress Company also joined forces with a raft of top quality chefs, some with Michelin stars, to provide hard working doctors and nurses in hospitals in London and Norwich with mouth-watering restaurant quality food as part of the‘Heroes’ initiative to ‘Help Them Help Us’. NHS workers had identified access to healthy food while working long hours as a key issue for them and this was one way that the food industry could help. With the majority of restaurants closed, chefs such as Francesco Mazzei and Michelin starred Galton Blackiston, offered their services for free, while The Watercress Company supplied freshly harvested British watercress, together with spinach and rocket. Well over 1,000 hearty meals were served up to key workers in as little as two weeks.
Finally, The Watercress Company didn’t forget the teams of local volunteers. Working with The Brace of Butchers in Poundbury, Dorset, the green team collaborated with top local chefs to serve up top nosh at a special celebratory lunch to thank the community groups who had helped the elderly and vulnerable during Lockdown. This included the Poundbury Community Coronavirus Help Group, The Storehouse, Dorchester Community Church, Dorchester Community Support Group, Blandford Peverell Community Group and Masks4 All.
Fred Searle, Editor of the FPJ said of The Watercress Company’s efforts: “We’ve been really impressed with the support The Watercress Company has shown for its local community in Dorset during the pandemic, delivering huge quantities of free watercress to NHS frontline workers and food banks. It is testament to the supplier’s fantastic ethos and its commitment to the local area.”
Tom Amery concluded: “It’s great for our industry to think this way and to seek out businesses that went the extra mile. I’m sure the 10 selected companies aren’t the only ones doing great things for their community and this sort of attention only encourages you to do more!”
Other winning companies were:
- UK FPN Lincolnshire
- Edward Palmer, S&A Produce
- Delifresh and Bradford Council
- Blue Skies
- Lorna Broome, Fresh Direct Dagenham
- Ryan Parr, PML