The vast majority of asparagus grown in the UK comes from the West Midlands, ans there is more than 3sq miles of the Worcestershire countryside dedicated to this crop. The UK consumer demand for asparagus is increasing by 12-14% per annum, and production in the UK is rising yearly by around 7%. None of the crop grown in England in exported, we eat the whole lot ourselves!
The Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire is the major producer of this very English vegetable and it supplies many of the nations finest restaurants. It is also the focus of the 8 week long British Asparagus Festival that starts on the 23rd April, marking the official start of this years asparagus season.
The event has been recognised as one of the UK’s most eccentric – it includes appearances by Gus the asparagus man, fortune telling by asparamancer Jemima Packington, the crowning of the King of Asparagus as well as the Great British Asparagus Run.
Akin to the Beaujolais Nouveau run, in previous years this has witnessed the first-cut round of asparagus being delivered to the Houses Of Parliament, the England for Excellence Awards’ Annual Dinner and to charities such as the British Legion and Air Ambulance. This year, a very special round will be delivered to Shakespeares’ birthplace in Stratford Upon Avon by tractor.
Organiser of the British Asparagus Festival, and long-time campaigner to have asparagus made the official food of Saint George’s Day, Angela Tidmarsh, commented:
“It’s wonderful to see Worcestershire and the Vale of Evesham recognised as the rightful home of asparagus. Throughout April and May, the county goes asparamad. Pubs and restaurants devote their entire menus to asparagus including dessert. There are asparagus tours, asparagus walks, the famous asparagus auctions and even asparagus cake baking competitions.
Guinness is synonymous with Saint Patrick’s Day and we’d like asparagus to be officially associated with Saint George’s Day. As well as being terribly British, asparagus begins to abound around 23rd April. Let’s face it, asparagus even looks like the sword used by our patron saint to slay the dragon”.
To find out more about the British Asparagus Festival 2012, please visit www.britishasparagusfestival.org