U.K. asparagus to hit shelves earlier in 2014

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U.K. asparagus to hit shelves earlier in 2014

U.K.-grown asparagus will be ready for supermarket shelves earlier than usual this spring, due to a mild winter and a combination of new growing methods. esparragos_77591350 asparagus

In a release issued by Marks & Spencer (M&S) yesterday, the British retailer said local asparagus was usually available in late April or early May, but a lack of snow meant 2014 would bring a longer window for sales of the vegetable.

Asparagus grower John Chinn from the Wye Valley – an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that straddles the border between England and Wales - has worked in conjunction with M&S to produce new ‘cold resistant’ varieties ,growing them under tunnels for extra protection from cold and frost.

"We are really excited to have our British asparagus ready this early as it means M&S customers can enjoy this lovely delicacy a whole month longer than the traditional season," Chinn said in a release.

"We really want to drive the British asparagus industry forwards and do this in the most sustainable and natural way."

The release said sales have increased by 24% in the last four weeks, but expectations are high that the 'sweeter' locally grown asparagus will be even more of a hit.

M&S also explained that sourcing British-grown asparagus for a longer period reduced the carbon footprint and provided crucial support for the U.K. farming industry.

"There is always an air of excitement when the first British asparagus comes into season as it signals the beginning of spring. This year our customers will be able to enjoy it even sooner, three weeks earlier than last year," said M&S vegetable expert, Louisa Read.

The release praised John Chinn for his innovative for pioneering an environmentally friendly production system that harnessed the sun's energy to stimulate crop growth.

The process also uses water-capture, whereby the farm's water run-off is channeled through a network of grass-lined waterways into an on-farm reservoir. This water is used again on the farm, thus reducing soil erosion and water usage.

"The crop is also totally pesticide-free," the release said.

Photo: www.shutterstock.com


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