The Taste of Kent Awards 2018, organised by Produced in Kent, has begun with the first category, the Garden of England Champion tastiest soft fruit and cherry, judged at the National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show at the Kent County Show, Friday 7 July.

Judged on taste alone by both professionals from the industry and members of the public the winning varieties and growers for this year are:

Cherries – Class 60 winner Brian Piper, Filmers Farm, Loose, Nr Maidstone with the variety Karina.

Strawberries – Class 70 winner John Myatt & Co, Mockbegger Farm, Rochester with the strawberry variety Magnum.

Raspberries –  Class 80 winner John Myatt & Co, Mockbegger Farm Rochester with the Raspberry variety Tulameen.

Sponsored by the Kent County Agricultural Society, this category showcases Kent’s tastiest soft fruits. Lucy Hegarty, Show Manager from the Kent County Agricultural Society said “We are proud to be supporting this award once again this year. The National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show is a key part of the Kent County Show and it is always interesting to see which entries are the winners on just taste alone.”

Paul Kelsey Chairman of the National Cherry and Soft Fruit show said “The National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show is delighted to be involved with Produced in Kent and The Taste of Kent Awards. Although the NCSFS attracts competitors from all over the UK, this class is solely for fruit grown in Kent and I am delighted that the number of entries continues to grow. John Myatt won all three categories two years ago and has scooped two of the three this year, so many congratulations to him and Brian Piper & Co, who have won this category for the first time.”

Stephanie Durling at Produced in Kent comments: “We would like to congratulate all this year’s winners and especially John who has been very successful in all three categories before. Each year the Garden of England Champion Soft Fruit awards kicks off the Taste of Kent Awards with the most delicious range of soft fruit and cherries. All the fruit on display once again looked fantastic and tasted delicious, so it was a difficult decision to make. Kent is renowned for producing excellent fruit and our awards aim to showcase the great tastes and flavours of Kent throughout the different seasons.  It is so important for Produced in Kent to ensure that Kent growers are highlighted as part of our awards continuing to demonstrate Kent’s fabulous fruit heritage”

The Taste of Kent Awards have been running since 2004 and are recognised as the outstanding annual showcase for Kent food and drink producers. The awards promote a wide range of categories and are open to all food and drink businesses across Kent.  Public voting in the campaign opens on 13th September until early January and will see thousands of members of the public voting for their favourites.  The awards demonstrate that more and more consumers are choosing to support local businesses buying Kent products and produce. If Kent residents spent just 10% of their weekly shopping budget buying something local from Kent, which is easily achievable, this can contribute in excess of £175M to the Kent economy.

The winning growers will formally receive their award at the Taste of Kent Awards Gala dinner, which takes place in March 2018.

Voting for the other categories opens 14th September 2017. Visit www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk for more details.