Fresh produce: Grow your offer

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For publicans looking to go green, energy-saving light bulbs and kitchen equipment are a good start - but paying attention to the pub's outdoor areas...

For publicans looking to go green, energy-saving light bulbs and kitchen equipment are a good start - but paying attention to the pub's outdoor areas is also important.

Customers will be very impressed by fresh, organically grown fruit and vegetables that have been produced on the premises.

Many pubs already source food locally but one way to make customers really sit up and take notice is to be able to say that your pub grows its own.

No food miles are travelled and both profits and green credentials could receive a boost - an attractive goal in the current economic climate.

Ye Old Sun Inn in Colton, near York, has won accolades including Food Pub of the Year at The Publican Awards 2008.

The pub's menu changes monthly and is based on seasonal food. Much of which is grown in a poly tunnel on the premises.

Licensees Ashley and Kelly McCarthy have been growing their own since they took over the pub five years ago and it makes economic sense as well as appealing to customers.

They grow a wide variety of crops including pumpkins, squashes and beans, which are also sold through the pub's on-site deli.

At the Talbot in Knightwick, Worcestershire, Annie Clift has been growing her own vegetables since she left farming 25 years ago to take over the pub.

"I can go out into the garden at 11 o'clock in the morning and pick lettuce to serve at lunchtime," she says.

This aspect of the business is well managed by two gardening friends who meet with Annie each week to discuss what jobs need doing.

The pub has raised beds, two poly tunnels and a propagating greenhouse - but not everyone has this much space and you don't need to be an expert.

Even a novice gardener can produce a respectable crop of new potatoes and salads.

With imagination space can always be found for a few large pots, grow bags, window boxes or hanging baskets for spinach, chard, shallots, french beans, tomatoes, strawberries and herbs.

And, given the right conditions, you can grow just about any fruit or vegetable crop that you might otherwise grow in a raised bed or vegetable plot.

Take a good look at your outside space. It could be an unused piece of ground or just a yard that needs clearing up. Rescue anything which, with some holes drilled in the base, could act as a growing container.

Garden centres and local stores will sell seeds, pots and compost and try farmers' markets for vegetable plants and herbs. Start thumbing through seed racks and catalogues and try something new.

A spot of gardening is also a great way to de-stress after a hectic time behind the bar - but beware, it can become addictive.

Sandra Geere is a writer and garden design consultant, specialising in organic fruit and vegetable gardening, allotments and healthy eating. To contact Sandra, email

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