The majority of the UK’s asparagus is now grown in the West Midlands with over three square miles of Worcestershire countryside dedicated to the crop. Consumer demand for asparagus in the UK is increasing by a 12 -14% per annum with UK production rising at around 7% per annum. None of the English crop is exported – we eat it all ourselves!
Worcestershire’s Vale of Evesham is a major producer of this most British of vegetables supplying some of the finest restaurants in the land. It is also the focus of the eight-week British Asparagus Festival which begins on April 23rd to mark the start of the 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 asparabus 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