Alan Titchmarsh, Angellica Bell and Amanda Owen join British farmers getting our fruit and veg to supermarkets – overcoming a reduced workforce; unprecedented demand and extreme weather.
Alan, Angellica and Amanda discover how the journey of one piece of fruit or veg to our kitchens involves an extraordinary chain of people, machines and processes. Harvest is a labour of love and a huge endeavour at the best of times, but this summer it is particularly challenging - with a reduced workforce, fluctuating consumer demand and extreme weather in the mix.
Alan Titchmarsh brings his own experience to bear as he joins one of the biggest fruit farms in the country, Bardsley-England in Kent, where one and a half million apple trees and sixty thousand plum trees must be harvested by hand. Luckily Alan has been a fruit picker before (as a student over 40 years ago), so he has a few ‘insider’ tricks up his sleeve for the plum harvest… And at mega veg grower Peter Barfoot’s farm in West Sussex, Alan sees for himself the devastating effect the extreme weather has had on one rather delicate vegetable this summer, the courgette.
The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen, leaves her sheep farm to explore the highs and lows of our best loved vegetable – the humble potato. Working alongside one of the country’s biggest growers, Robert Lindley Farms in Yorkshire, she witnesses for herself the physical labour involved in getting one million potatoes out of the ground each week. Amanda joins workers young and old on the production line – including student Hannah who works at lightning speed on the harvester in the field, and grandmother Jane back at the packhouse - who can spot a dodgy spud at 20 paces... And when orders suddenly drop, Amanda witnesses for herself the impact on a second-generation farmer and 30 local staff.
Angellica Bell is on the frontline stacking shelves with supermarket workers as they strive to keep the supply of fresh fruit and veg coming during surges of demand. Angellica discovers that, with the nation in lockdown this year, we’ve been ordering huge supplies of fresh produce that outstrips normal Christmas levels... But without the usual three-month planning time for Christmas, the supermarket workforce that keeps the supply chain moving have been stretched to their limits.
Alan, Angellica and Amanda follow the stories of six individual fruits and vegetables to discover the intricate processes, amazing technology, ability to adapt and attention to detail of British farmers and their teams as they feed the country – ensuring that fresh produce continues to reach us in perfect condition, whatever the obstacles.
Summer on the Farm: An Extraordinary Year airs Tuesday 10th November at 8pm on ITV.