The award recognises an outstanding contribution to the regional food and drinks industry, and is named in honour of Carol – a pioneering food writer and respected local figure, who passed away in 2009.
Tregassow Farm has a cult following as a producer of asparagus; its spears are highly sought-after for their tenderness and delicious flavour.
The judges noted the challenges that the Keeler family had overcome, “when their only real asset was their farm and their passion,” as they took the plunge and opted to grow an unconventional crop, developing new marketing skills along the way.
Owner Jennie Keeler was surprised and overjoyed to receive the award, saying: “We are so proud to be singled out against such tough competition. We love what we do – it’s incredibly rewarding – but this is the icing on the cake!”
Jennie and her family have been growing asparagus on their farm at St Erme for 17 years, and sell their prized crop at Truro Farmers Market during the brief season.
Each year their return to market is eagerly anticipated as, for their loyal followers, these green shoots herald the arrival of spring.
Tregassow Asparagus also appears on the menu at some of the top restaurants in the South West, with chefs designing dishes primarily to showcase the seasonal delicacy.
Nik Tinney, chef at Saffron Restaurant in Truro, uses Tregassow Asparagus as soon as he can get his hands on it, saying: “We make the most of it every year, virtually planning a whole menu around all the different things you can do with asparagus! We also use a lot of other market produce at the restaurant – it’s a great resource to have on our doorstep.”
British Asparagus is said to be the best in the world as the UK climate allows it to develop slowly – producing a full, sweet flavour and a fine, tender texture; it also has multiple health benefits.
Tregassow Asparagus will be available at Truro Farmers Market next spring – keep an eye out on www.trurofarmers.co.uk for news.
The market is also the place to find other award-winners from this year’s Taste of The West; The Cornwall Duck Company picked up an award for their Duck Burgers, and Padstow Brewery triumphed in the Beer category with their Padstow Sundowner.