Fruit and Veg

Day 9: British Food Fortnight - Q&A with James Harwood Dew, Harwoods of London.

Written by NCGM
September 27, 2020

Why this family business loves the nation’s favourite vegetable, the noble potato.

To celebrate British Food Fortnight, we spoke to James Harwood Dew, Director of Harwoods of London Ltd.

Harwoods of London is a family run company supplying UK and international fresh fruit and vegetables to all types of catering establishments throughout London and the Home Counties; from independent grocers, to national hospitality groups. Contact them directly to order.

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(Image: Jim Harwood Dew and his son James Dew).

Why should the food service industry and the public buy British?

“We should buy British to support our economy, especially as Brexit is approaching. It is important that we rally the UK’s chefs and show them how fantastic and diverse British produce is.”

What types of British produce is popular over harvest time? What's incredible right now?

“We supply a huge variety of top-quality British fruit and veg. The new potato crops were literally dug up a few days ago. We have a close relationship with an incredible farm, Morghew Park Estate.

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(Image: Morghew Park Estate Farm products available from Harwoods of London).

Do you have an interesting/fun fact or statistic about a particular product that is now in season?

“We sell a wide variety of fresh produce, but today is all about British Potatoes! The UK ranks about number 10 in the world for growing potatoes. Britain harvests about 5.5 million tonnes of potatoes! Us Brits love them!”

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(Image: Patriotic potatoes at Morghew Park Estate).

Tell us a great fact about your business.

“We are a family run business and I am proud to say I have three sons working with me who will continue the business into the future. Gareth Lewis, Joshua Lewis and James Dew.

Also, we work to our motto, “Big enough to cope, small enough to care.” This really is the case. We work with very large restaurant groups and small independent businesses. Everyone, no matter if they are buying one box or 100 boxes, gets the same high standard of customer service with us.”

Have you seen an increase in the sales of British produce?

“Definitely. Chefs and their customers are much more interested in where their food is grown. The pandemic will probably continue this trend as transparency is easy when you buy British. We have the best farmers in the world, with the highest standards.”

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(Image: Jim Harwood Dew and his sons Gareth Lewis, James Dew – Joshua Lewis his other son was busy grafting in Kent but was missed!).

In regard to British produce, can you give an example of how your company is sustainable?

“We spend a great deal of time ensuring we have as little waste as possible by staying ahead and understanding supply and demand.

As we have Harwoods of Kent, which my son Joshua runs, we have our own vans that drive around the farms collecting produce reducing our food miles.

It also means we can meet with our farmers regularly. Those close relationships are paramount and why we sell such incredible produce at Harwoods.”

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(Image: Farming at Morghew Park Estate).

Can you give us information about a British fresh produce farmer, or artisanal food producer?

“Absolutely. The Potato Shop can be found on the 2000-acre Morghew Park Estate in Tenterden, Kent. This information has come from the respected, knowledgeable Nicki Crawley, The Potato Shop Manager.

Morghew was purchased by Tom Lewis in 2001. It already had a potato growing operation and he continued it.

When he saw the prices supermarkets were willing to pay for ‘round, white potatoes’ (making a huge loss) he decided to grow more interesting heritage varieties to supply to the local community. They soon became very popular due to their different tastes, textures and cooking uses. News spread and the amount they grow continues to grow too!

This year they have successfully planted and grown over 30 different varieties of potato, all of which were harvested on or around the 16th of September this year.

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(Image: some of the many heritage varieties available at The Potato Shop).

The Potato Shop potatoes are supplied into Covent Garden Market twice weekly all year round. They also supply direct to local restaurants, farm shops, pubs in Kent and East Sussex and direct to people’s homes nationally.

Varieties grown include Pink Fir Apple, Salad Blue, Vitelotte, Shetland Black, Highland Burgundy Red and the good old King Edward to name a few!

Recently, they set up a website to be able to supply homes nationally and that has proved to be really popular. There is a huge potato following in this country. Customers love the range of potatoes they grow and also the fact that they are all grown in the UK.

Local customers love the provenance of they produce and many of them walk through the estate using the footpaths. Food miles are important to the loyal, local customers.

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(Image: Potatoes packed and ready to be delivered to New Covent Garden Market)

They have started to diversify and now send their own rapeseed off to be pressed into award winning cold pressed rapeseed oil, it has nothing added or taken away and tastes delicious!

Stoneground Wholemeal Flour is the latest product from this innovative farm. A local miller takes their wheat and makes it into the nicest wholemeal flour you have ever tasted. Again, this is a product with nothing added or taken away, wholefood at its best.

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(Image: The award-winning products available from Harwoods of London and The Potato Shop).

The estate had a small amount of spare land next to the potatoes this year so planted some sweetcorn which they sell locally and on their honesty stall alongside our other products.

The Potato Shop is a small team working together to plant, grow, harvest, pack and deliver produce to the highest standards. They have all worked together for many years and will for many more!”

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(Image: The expert Morghew Park Estate team that makes it all possible).

Author: Meg Morrison

Photography: Seek permission to use from Tom Moggach or The Potato Shop.

If you have any questions, email or call 02077202211 and ask for Meg or Cassie. We are here to help.

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