The National Trust is promoting its commitment to local food with a range of new initiatives launched this autumn.
As part of its new Food Policy, the trust is trialling a scheme to source produce used in its catering establishments from the National Trust land immediately surrounding them.
It has several walled gardens adjoining properties, which act as a primary source for fruit and vegetables served in its restaurants. But for sites without gardens - or where volumes required exceed stocks - produce is sourced from local suppliers. In sourcing the ingredients, cooks will look first to their property, then their county, region, and around the UK, showing its commitment to "best of British".
According to the Trust, it has been increasing its commitment to seasonality in its restaurants over the last two years, and is adapting its menus to suit availability of locally-sourced produce, rather than relying on imported ingredients.
It also this week announced the launch of a new award system promoting products grown and produced on its farms, orchards and gardens, designed to recognise high-quality production methods and great-tasting food.
To test-run the awards in their first year, a representative sample of its tenant producers were invited to apply for the awards, which this year consisted mainly of meat products.
But following its success, all tenants will be eligible to apply for next year’s awards, open to farmers, horticulturalists, and jam makers, as well as millers and bakers.
Speaking at the award launch, National Trust director general Fiona Reynolds said: “There’s something special about local food that you know where it comes from, that it feels connected - a sense of rightness.
"If you come across the National Trust, we want you to feel that sense of connection, that sense of deep values, coming through in what you see in our restaurants, cafes and shops and also on our land."
It is also launching a three-year green-learning project called Small Steps, Big Change, which aims to reduce the organisation’s impact on the environment. Part of the scheme - Food Choices - is an initiative at its properties to teach visitors about food, farming and growing. The defra-funded project addresses topics such as seasonality, composting food waste, local production and sustainable land management. It also links the programme with healthy eating in a bid to help inform consumer choice, building on its From Plot to Plate scheme, which teaches the importance of local and seasonal food.