An underrated superfood with a very short Summer season, cherries are packed full with vitamins and antioxidants making them an extremely special fruit.
Black Stone, Morello and Spanish are just a few familiar varieties of cherries all ranging from sweet to sour on the flavour scale.
As fair-weather fruits, cherries are not widely grown in the UK. However, we spoke to Somerset cherry farmer, Robert Fovargue from Whitehouse Farm Cherries, about these full-flavoured fruits…
“Every year at this time, Whitehouse Farm is selling freshly picked fruit both at the farm and, when there’s a reasonable crop, at the Somerset Farmers’ Markets. Fully ripened on the tree and picked and sold all within a day. There is nothing more fragrant and sweet than an in-season, local cherry.
For very good reasons, most people associate cherries with Kent. We would love to have the weather enjoyed in those parts where average summer temperatures are up to 5C greater than other regions and annual rainfall is approximately half of this part of Somerset, but this doesn’t mean we can’t have an abundant crop every year.
Fruit growing experts will tell you that it is near madness to grow this crop within a mile of Chard and they are right – it doesn’t come without its hard work. However, because it is so marginal, and particularly because the fruit takes that much longer to ripen, the quality and flavour is exceptional. To add to that, cherries are in the group of super fruits, which includes blueberries, blackcurrants, pomegranates and blackberries. Cherries also give comfort to sufferers of gout.
Planted in 2005, the orchard is fully netted to deter hungry birds and the rows are protected with rain covers when rain is forecasted (which would cause fruit splitting). We also pull the covers over the crop on hot days to shade both the fruit and the pickers!
So, why are there so few cherry growers in the South West? High risk and high cost are probably the main reasons; but it can be done and our customers glean great enjoyment for a 6-week spell from early July to the middle of August.”