Michael inherited the family farms at Northiam and Sandhurst when his father passed away in 2000. At the time the land was planted with cherries at Sandhurst and Bramley and Cox apples at Northiam.
However, after a couple of years, Michael decided that specialising in cherries was the route that he wanted to take and pulled out the 20 year old apple orchards to replant with 2,200 new cherry treees in the winter of 2003. At this time he also rented another local cherry orchard from a retired farmer, thus firmly putting all his eggs in one basket!
Now with about 7,000 cherry trees growing over 30 different varieties under his management, Michael takes great pride in growing the best cherries you’ll have tasted, his personal favourite being the Kordia variety.
Michael ensures that they are picked when they’re fully ripe to make the most of the wonderful flavour that Kentish Cherries have to offer.
These cherries are always delivered to Jempson’s the day after they are picked to ensure maximum freshness.
Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, was established in 1698 in Faversham, Kent. The brewery was run by the Shepherd family until 1864, when the Neames joined the business. It is now run by the fifth generation of the Neame family, who continue to produce a range of fine Kentish Ales.
David Holmes is head brewer, and passionate about using only the finest ingredients, most of which are sourced locally in the county. David and his team of master brewers use techniques that have been perfected over 300 years.
Every Friday, David gets up at 4am to mash-in Bishops Finger, a condition of the unique Bishops Finger Charter. It states only the head brewer can brew the ale, using the chalk-filtered mineral water from the brewery’s artesian well and East Golding Hops grown within a 30 mile radius of the brewery.
Bishops Finger and Spitfire hold the rare distinction of being granted Protective Geographic Indication by the European Union. This means they are the only beers in Britain entitled to be known as Kentish Strong Ales, just as Champagne comes exclusively from the Champagne wine region in France.
Richard retired from teaching about 25 years ago. An amateur beekeeper at the time he turned his hobby into a second career. When Richard enthuses about bees and honey it soon becomes clear that he is a true countryman, conservationist and naturalist. His motto is ‘Let nature do the work’.
With a little help from Richard the result is the finest honey we have stocked in over 70 years of trading. The mixed crops, meadows, deciduous woodlands and mild climate make the Weald of Kent and Sussex ideal bee territory. Richard collects honey from a vast area and skilfully blends it into the distinctive varieties sold under the Beult House label.
Beult House Honey carries Jempsons Five Star rosette. That’s our strongest recommendation.
Nikki and her husband have farmed at Lynsted in the heart of Kent for many years. Nikki enjoyed a successful equestrian career and the farm prospered until devastated by Foot and Mouth disease. This forced the family to diversify and to quote Nikki ‘We’ve never looked back’.
Nikki started making her Fairbed Orchard marmalades and preserves in her farmhouse kitchen in 2001. She still uses local produce, whenever possible, including fresh fruit from the family farm. The marmalades and preserves are still cooked in small batches in the farmhouse kitchen, concentrating on consistency and high quality rather than quantity.
‘Cottage industry’ this may be but the Fairbed Orchard range meets the Food Standards Agency’s HACCP criteria – an internationally recognised level for food safety.
Nikki’s range is gradually expanding and her family test all new products. Fairbed Orchard have won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Great Taste awards.
Available at Jempson’s with many other fine foods produced by our Local Heroes.
Colin bought The Owl House fruit farm at Lamberhurst in the Weald of Kent – the Garden of England – in 1985. He grows several varieties of apples, pears and cherries. Initially he produced cider and fresh pressed apple juice but he soon decided to concentrate on fruit juice to meet increasing demand.
Colin and his seven-strong team now make eight apple juices, three pear juices and three different berry juices under the Owlets label. Stella, the family spaniel, helps out at peak times. Barking, probably.
Since 2001 Owlet fruit juices have won four bronze, four silver and six gold medals at the Great Taste Awards, the fine food ‘Oscars’. The most recent accolade is the 2007 gold Great Taste Award for Colin’s Cox/Bramley Apple Juice. The same juice won first prize at the 2003 National Apple Juice competition.
There are many excellent fruit juices on the market but in our opinion, none better Owlets.
Bernard inherited the family farm in East Sussex when his father died in 1964. Gooseley Farm at Beckley was a typical mixed farm of the period. Crops included hops, plums and soft fruit.
A typical farm perhaps but exceptional too. The Sheathers grew superb rhubarb. In the early 1980s Bernard moved to The Orchards also in Beckley. He retired in 1992 but kept a field of rhubarb which he still cultivates and supplies to Jempsons as he has done for over 40 years.
His Timperley Early variety is in great demand but Bernard grows for quality and will not compromise. Nor need you. Buy Bernard’s rhubarb from Jempson’s of Peasmarsh the day that it is harvested in neighbouring Beckley. We have won the nationwide Fresh Produce Retailer of the Year Award and we did so with the help of Bernard and his peers – our Local Heroes.
On leaving Rolvenden village school Jim worked for local builders, served in the Brigade of Guards during National Service and then became a butcher’s apprentice.
In 1959 he bought the local butcher’s shop, found that demand for his sausages outstripped supply so he closed the shop and concentrated solely on sausages. Still based in Rolvenden, Jim and his sons Robert and Edward continue to make pork sausages, sausage meat and sausage rolls.
The reasons for Korkers’ success? Dedication, skill and the finest ingredients. They were recently awarded the Gold Clean Award by Ashford Borough Council. Jim served as a Councillor representing Rolvenden on
Ashford Borough Council and was twice Mayor of the Borough. He still plays an active part in the business and is confident that Robert and Edward will continue the winning formula he discovered nearly 50 years ago.
Korkers are available at Jempson’s alongside many other locally produced fine foods.
Chris Nicholas’ family have owned Hoads Farm at Sandhurst in the Weald of Kent since 1939 when it was bought by his grandfather. The farm’s 25 acre vineyard is his pride and joy. His mother, Anne, lives in the adjoining 16th century farmhouse.
Sandhurst Vineyards grow Bacchus, Reichensteiner and Schonberger grapes for white wine and Rondo and Dornfelder for their reds. The wine is made in nearby Tenterden by Owen Elias. The range includes sparkling, dry and medium dry white, red, rosé and dessert wine.
Sandhurst Vineyards have won an impressive number of awards. In 2005 the Kentish Medium Dry won the bronze medal in the South East Wine of the Year Awards, first prize at the English Wine Fair and in 2006 it won second prize at the South of England Show. The Pinot Noir won the prestigious Bernard Theobald Trophy for the best red wine in the English and Welsh Wine of the Year competition in 2007.
All this from a small local vineyard with a large amount of skill and commitment from grower and winemaker.
Sally has lived in the Weald of Kent for most of her life. She began making Benenden Sauce at the family farm in 1998. Over the last decade her sweet garlic dressing has won applaud from top chefs and connoisseurs.
Versatility is a big factor in this success story. Benenden Sauce bridges the gap between salad dressing and sauce and can be enjoyed with hot and cold food.
Demand has not led to compromise. Sally makes her sauce with one trusted colleague who shares the secret recipe. The old milking parlour of Sally’s farm is the centre of activity.
Many ‘purveyors of fine foods’ call their products ‘farmhouse’ this or ‘farmhouse’ that. When you buy Benenden Sauce you know you’ve got the genuine article.
Available at and highly recommended by Jempson’s.
Mention Biddenden and most people think of the Wealden village, home to the legendary Biddenden Maids. Connoisseurs of fine wines and ciders will think of Biddenden Vineyards and Cider Works.
First planted by the Barnes family in 1969, the vineyard, is the oldest in South East England. Apples have been grown in the area for centuries and the cider works contain a 17th century press and many other artefacts. Biddenden Cider’s still variety is made from farm-pressed Kentish apples available as sweet, medium and dry.
Serious cider drinkers especially appreciate the Special Reserve, a dark, rich cider matured in oak whisky barrels.
Biddenden Cider has won several accolades including most prized, the CAMRA Cider of the Year award. Jempson’s have stocked these superb ciders for many years. Because they are produced to uncompromising standards by traditional methods there is a limited supply but a big demand. Heather and her colleague Tom Jinks ensure that Jempson’s shelves are well stocked.
The Dengates have farmed in East Sussex for generations. Dickie and his sons, Roger and David, continue that tradition with 60 acres of orchards in Peasmarsh. They grow Cox’s Orange Pippins, Worcesters, John of Gold, Galaxy, Bramleys and 20 other varieties both commercially and experimentally.
The fruit is picked in season when in prime condition. We buy it straight from the orchard which is only a mile from our Superstore. It couldn’t be fresher!
A former Parson, Dickie combines apple cultivation and research with other activities including that of
Rural Officer for the Methodist Church. The Jempson family have known Dickie since he was a boy when he helped in our original bakery and shop founded in 1935.
We go back a long way. We are going forward too.
Christiana Stead was born in Yorkshire in 1898. ‘Gran’, as she was known, inherited a secret family recipe for ginger wine. Len and Dot Knox discovered Gran Stead’s ginger wine in 1994. They liked it so much that they bought the recipe from Gran’s family and started making it in the kitchen of their East Sussex home.
When Len and Dot retired their son Chris and his wife Rosemary took over and gradually developed the business. Although still a ‘cottage industry’ demand has grown and Gran Stead’s is now made at a nearby farm.
Gran Stead’s is made from natural ingredients and Chris and Rosemary take infinite trouble to ensure consistently high quality and flavour. The result is a mellow, versatile and non-alcoholic drink to be enjoyed throughout the year with an appropriate 12 month shelf life.
Gran Stead’s has been approved by A Taste of Sussex and is recommended by Gourmet Britain.
Heartily recommended by Jempson’s.
Pat Lives at Stonegate in the heart of East Sussex. He has timber yards there and at Bells Yew Green just over the border in Kent. He has coppiced for over 30 years. His work for the National Trust, several large estates and farms takes him and his two colleagues across all the Southern Counties.
His main crops are ash and hornbeam, the former being most popular because it burns well immediately after cutting. The regular size and quality of his logs and kindling, coupled with reliable supply makes them the first choice of many of Jempsons customers.
The photograph of Pat was taken in woodlands near Tenterden. Not in the picture is Pat’s dog ‘Goose’
his trusty and constant companion.
Heartily recommended by Jempson’s.
We’re always on the look out for quality local produce.
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