Q&A with Blackcurrant Grower Josh Berry

Josh is a third-generation blackcurrant grower and one of the 35 growers in the country trusted to grow blackcurrants for the delicious drink we all know and love very much so, Ribena! We’ve spoken to Josh to find out more about his family’s blackcurrant history and the best tips for producing the perfect crop. When it comes to blackcurrants, he believes ‘fine art’ is the best representation of his growing style, take a look at his answers to find out why!…

Name: Josh Berry

Age: 38

Who in your family is involved in growing, past, present and future?
My Grandfather Maurice, My Father Julian and then myself.

How long have you been growing blackcurrants?
I have been growing Blackcurrants for 11 years. We have grown blackcurrants on the family farm since 1960’s.

What varieties do you grow and in what region/area?
I grow a range of varieties in Kent just outside Faversham. I grow Ban Gairn, Ben Vane, Ben Starav, Ben Hope, Ben Klibrek and Ben Alder.

What tonnage do you harvest annually and where do they go?
I grow about 150 tons and they are all used in the production of Ribena.

Do you produce anything yourself with the fruit?
Not at the moment.

What else do you grow?
I also grow Hops, Cherries, Pears, Oil Seed Rape, Wheat, Oats and Field Beans.

Why do you love growing blackcurrants?
I love growing blackcurrants as they form part of my family’s farming heritage and growing a quality crop of blackcurrants gives great purpose to my life. Above all they taste great.

Can you give one tip that people could benefit from when growing blackcurrants? Good pruning to create young replacement growth on which will grow the best quality fruit.

Can you tell us about some of the ways in which you manage the land sustainably?
I have numerous wild bird seed plots strategically placed around the farm. We have almost 100 nest boxes across the farm to encourage song bird populations. Pollen and nectar mixes are planted to encourage pollination insects in the vicinity of blackcurrant plantations.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy blackcurrants?
I grew up on Ribena which I love although you can’t beat a blackcurrant straight from the bush at harvest!

If you were a blackcurrant artist what genre of art do you think best represents you in your growing approach and why? I would say fine art as it is all about attention to detail to capture the best results.

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