Damson Harvest

The Lyth Valley in Cumbria is the home to orchards full of damsons - and it's harvest time. An old native fruit with rather mysterious origins and once a crucial crop for many farmers in the area, damsons are prized for their unique sharp taste. Times have changed though, and the damson has fallen out of favour. Erratic crops have been a problem too, with last year's harvest almost non-existent.

Caz Graham heads to the Lyth Valley to help with the harvest, and to understand how some farmers and food producers are looking again at the damson and celebrating this British fruit so steeped in history. On her journey she will encounter Hartley Trotter, who has been picking damsons, armed only with a bucket and a ladder, for more than sixty years. She also meets Sean Partington who makes damson sausages with his rare breed pigs, and Lizzie Smith who used to make an annual pilgrimage with her family to the valley in the sixties and now makes sought-after damson "cheese" there.

Caz also meets up with Hartley's neighbour, Anne Wilson, who helps with the harvest, John Holmes from the Westmoreland Damson Association, and farmer Edward Sharp, whose dairy herd and sheep are his main business these days, but who still tends to his damson orchard, which was planted mostly by his father.

It's a tale of musical fruit, changing tastes, competitive harvesting and making the most of the riches on your doorstep.

Presenter: Caz Graham
Producer: Rich Ward.

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22 minutes

Last on

Sun 29 Sep 2013 06:35