Essex farmer grows melons

AN ESSEX salad grower has become one of the first farmers in the UK to grow melons on a commercial basis.Dave Edwards, co-owner of Anglia Salads, based at Frating, near Colchester, and his family have been growing produce in the area since the 1920s and currently specialise in producing leaves for bagged salads sold at Tesco.

AN ESSEX salad grower has become one of the first farmers in the UK to grow melons on a commercial basis.

Dave Edwards, co-owner of Anglia Salads, based at Frating, near Colchester, and his family have been growing produce in the area since the 1920s and currently specialise in producing leaves for bagged salads sold at Tesco.

Two years ago, after a bet with a customers, he decided to have a go at growing melons as he wanted to do something with green houses at nearby Ardleigh which previously stood empty during the summer months when it could be too hot to grow leaves inside.

Having succeeded on a small scale last year he has stepped up production to commercial levels this season and, despite the relatively poor summer weather, the crop is now ready to hit the supermarket shelves.

Mr Edwards has grown 4,000 grown plants which should yield about 32,000 melons, including Cantaloupe, Galia and Piel de Sapo varieties. The melons will appear in locally branded packs at about 40 local Tesco stores in and around the Colchester area for about six weeks.

“It all started as a bit of a hobby and having had no experience of growing melons, I've really enjoyed the challenges of how we can improve the taste and quality of the fruit,” said Mr Edwards.

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“Most people who see them here just stop dead in their tracks because they are probably the last thing you'd expect growing in Essex. I'm really pleased to be involved with a joint venture with Tesco which means customers can go into their local stores and buy a real local product grown by the man down the road.”

Tesco fruit buyer Susanna Leung added: “The arrival of these melons is great news and hopefully could encourage other British farmers to consider growing equally adventurous produce.”