Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could sit down to a Christmas lunch made from food produced almost entirely in our beautiful county? One Local Food Britain member, Fin & Farm, based in Hove, is making that happen as highlighted in a recent article in Sussex lifestyle magazine Etc.
Did you know that 38 varieties of potato are grown in Sussex? It’s an important fact to have at your fingertips when you are the owners of Fin & Farm wanting to supply the best spud for making Christmas day roasties. Muir Jankowski and her business and life partner, Nick Sandford, even went as far as having a roast potato tasting, with family members as judges.
This was no hardship for the couple who, says Muir, “think about food about 80% of the day and night”.
Every week they collect fresh vegetables, meat, jams and chutneys, cheese, dairy, beer, wine, and much more from farms and producers between Chichester and Hastings. Then this is packed into boxes and delivered to homes and restaurants across the county. Fin & Farm is a zero-food waste company, so everything is bought to order, packed inside their large van, and delivered within 24 hours. Even the boxes are used again.
There are now around 100 Sussex suppliers on the Fin & Farm books and, although a high proportion of its customers were catering establishments when the business first started, now, nine years later, private homes have almost equal footing.
“We have noticed a huge interest in people wanting to eat and cook what I call `real food’ and this has overtaken the demand for organic,” says Muir. “Sussex has so much gorgeous food and it is one of the most self-sufficient counties in the country.”
That self-sufficiency extends all year round, even in the dead of winter, which means that Fin & Farm can deliver almost everything needed for the Christmas day feast, whether that is charcuterie for antipasti to rich `old-fashioned’ cream for the pud, plus a wide range of vegetables and, of course, the turkey, free range and reared in Sussex.
Some of the newer products being delivered this Christmas will be “an amazing spreadable salami” made on a farm in North Chailey, perfect for canapes, to an ash-coated goat’s cheese from a dairy in Horam, which will slide down nicely with a local walnut liqueur.
A constant challenge, says Muir, is to encourage people to think laterally when it comes to using Sussex produce. For instance, the county doesn’t produce cranberries, but with a little planning ahead, and use of the freezer, local redcurrants can be turned into a delicious accompaniment for turkey. And why not try some of the lesser known varieties of vegetable with the Christmas roast, she says, and suggests sautéing a locally grown Red Russian kale with bacon.
Brussels sprouts will be available this Christmas - as they are almost all year round thanks to Sussex growers - but at the time of writing, Muir and Nick are worried that there will be a parsnip shortage due to the milder weather. However, there are more than 100 different varieties of vegetable to choose from on the Fin & Farm website, which should fill any gap on the plate.
Deliveries for Christmas are carefully planned on a giant spreadsheet by Nick, and all farms and producers are contacted in advance to confirm availability. To ensure their customers receive the food as fresh as possible, deliveries will be made right up to, and on, Christmas Eve.
Then it’s back home to Hove where the next day they will be cooking for 12, using the Sussex ingredients that they are so proud of. Nick is particularly fond of the spreadable salami so that will certainly be part of the canapes, and there will even be a mushroom Wellington for the vegetarians - using local mushrooms, naturally.