Guernsey Tomorrow

November 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm. General News, Letters to Media.

These were prompted by, the Guernsey Business Plan, wanting more self suffiency in local produce, and attending Guernsey Tomorrow at Beau Sejour. It was interesting at this work shop, sitting at one of 10 or more tables, when every table’s priority was the need, to produce more in this Island. This is easier said than done and l will try to explain why.
When l first worked in growing with my late father and brother over 40 years ago, it was a lot different. There were over 2,000 growers of differing sizes and about 400 farmers.
At that time, we had a large Guernsey Market, numerous shops, Hotels, guest houses, restaurants and wholesalers around the Island, all selling and using local produce. There were no supermarkets, at that period, my family did supply, the first one which was Manor Stores and all the other ones over the years.
All the produce was cut and delivered fresh, we were almost self sufficient in vegetables, fish and meat. We exported a large number of different sorts of produce, including 8million x 14lbs. trays of tomatoes.
There was very little packaging, no barcodes and most things were sold lose.
Now 40 years later gone the Guernsey Market, gone the numerous shops, hotels, guest houses and wholesalers. Only two large vegetable growers and a few more that grow 1 to 3 things. Most of our food is now imported from around the world, from as far as China.
This is called progress and in some cases, it is and in some it is not.
We because of Global Warming and food miles are now going back, to trying to use more local produce.
Most of our produce is now sold by supermarkets, the few local shops left and the farmers markets, which have grown over the last 5 years or more. For the supermarkets there is a lot more packaging now, which to any producer of vegetables, time consuming, costly and reduces the volume he can grow. Almost 30% of their time is spent, cleaning, packaging and bar-coding, because of the extra quality needed there is also more waste. Also since there is use by and sell by dates, it is estimated that 30% of our food goes in the bin, added to the produce that does not meet quality control requirements, this waste could be as much as 40% of any crop.
It is generally accepted that the larger growers, can meet the requirements of continuity, quality, packaging, bar-coding and volume.
It is fair to say that supermarkets have been very demanding in the past, but it is good to see that locally like Forest Stores and Co. Op., talking to growers, to try and get more local produce in their stores.
As for the markets or Farmers markets, they are mainly for the small producer, who has larger overheads.
After the demise of the Town Market, but with the small St. Peters Country Market still on Wednesday, the first Fairfield giant hedge veg., by Floral Guernsey started. This was after a small gap in years, from when the Town Market closed, it was a one off with about 8 stalls, including myself.
This opened it up, for the small producer again, and Peter de Saumarez, then started the Farmers Market on his lawn.
It began with 9 stalls, and is now about 22+, there is also the Fairfield and the small Town Market possibly making over 50.
They are not all produce, but are more like the French ones, with a variety of things.
It must also be asked, why can the French, sell meat and fish, with less restrictions, than we have.
It gives people more of a chose, some with busy lives prefer to shop in supermarkets or convenience shops, and some like the Saturday markets.
I sell local, and try to get people to buy seasonally, thus helping to alleviate Global Warming.
Going back to The Guernsey Business Plan and what people wanted at Guernsey Tomorrow. The overall opinion was, people want more local vegetables and produce.
If we do want more produce of any sort, we have to look at the regulations that make it easier to import from Country’s that are in my opinion, less healthy and less regulated than we are.
We have to make it easier and less costly, for people to get sheep, pigs and other livestock here. It has to be made easier, to butcher and sell them.
This is one of the points I made, there is a need for a small community processing pack house, so that small producers, can reduce their costs.
The small holders need to get, the full value when they sell, this they can only get at a farmers market. They get the full retail price, without this the small producer will not grow.
If he does not grow, the future in the next 5 years, will be competing in the world market, with ever increasing prices, problems caused by the shortage and need for more water on increasingly dryer land.
We have in Guernsey, the quality land, climate, water and the expertise, but the organisation to do it is still at the talking and planning stage
A La Perchoine
Dave Gorvel

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