Chef-patron urges us all to grow our own food

Today marks the start of National Allotment Week in the UK.

No longer are allotments seen as something that is reserved for retirement but instead they are being utilised by individuals and communities.

With people becoming more aware of mass food production and their own diets and health, more and more green spaces are being used around Scotland to grow fruit and veg.

Fred Berkmiller – chef-patron of AA-rosette awarded l’escargot bleu and l’escargot blanc, and bar Ă  vin in Edinburgh, is delighted by the trend.

He said: ‘In 2017, I rejuvenated the Newton Walled garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh. I would be the first to admit that I knew nothing about gardening and starting with even just half an acre of land was very daunting.

‘However a year and half on, I am now growing potatoes, carrots, beans, salad and tomatoes over two acres of land.

‘I continue learning as I go, making mistakes and finding what works best in the temperamental Scottish climate. I had never realised the true satisfaction that could be gained from salad until I picked my first leaf!

‘We are all to accustomed to the convenience of the supermarkets now a days. We expect seasonal ingredients like strawberries to be available all year round when in fact we should have them in summer, when they grow naturally.

‘In the restaurant, we work hard to use ingredients grown locally, whether vegetable, animal or otherwise. It’s our job to highlight the flavour of these seasonal ingredients, so cooking simply and honestly is our core principal at l’escargot blanc and l’ecargot bleu.

‘If you have space in your garden or a nearby area, I would encourage you whole-heartedly to try growing some of your own vegetables. Once you start the journey from seed to soil through to your own dinner plate, you start to realise how special food is.

‘It’s not just a plastic wrapped object that you pick up in a supermarket, but each item is individual and has its own character. I thought I knew good tomatoes until I grew my own!

‘Growing your own fruit and vegetables isn’t as scary as it sounds. Start simply with some lettuce or radishes that are sturdy and hardy to the Scottish weather. Once you make a salad from our own leaves, you’ll never look back!

‘The flavour is incomparable to pre-packaged salad. You don’t even need a garden to grow vegetables, you can plant herbs in a window box or plant pot to get started whilst you grow your confidence (alongside your greens!).

‘Once you taste something you’ve grown yourself, you will see what all the fuss it about and why I’m so passionate about locally sourced produce!’