Heaven and Hell: Lily Turner of Yum Yum Tree Fudge
- Credit: Olivia-Kim Turner
Lily Turner was born in Burma but grew up in Surrey.
She had a flair for creative arts and gained a degree in design at Bristol Polytechnic, where she met her husband Adrian.
They are now co-founders of Yum Yum Tree Fudge, a Suffolk fudge manufacturer with awards for food innovation and their ecological goals set by the Carbon Charter.
Today, they are producing over 14 tonnes of fudge per year using locally-grown beet sugar and British butter and milk as their base ingredients. Yum Yum Tree Fudge could often be seen at many events across East Anglia and beyond. Gina Long meets her
What’s the impact of Covid-19 and how have you adapted?
It has been tough on all of us but looking back on a year of a pandemic, I think we have coped relatively well.
Family and work life for us is very much intertwined, as my husband Adrian Turner and our children work together within the business.
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On the weekend before the first lockdown, we officially moved from our home base in Thurston to our shiny new factory in Woolpit.
So the timing was terrible, but we very quickly adapted our business model
from one that was based almost wholly on consumer events, 80-90 a year, to an online business overnight.
This was an area that we hadn’t fully explored, but now after nine months of development, we have a fresh new website and a marketing team to propel us further into this direction.
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Our small team has worked hard to stay afloat and continue to spread some joy with our products.
Of course, we miss seeing our customers face to face, masks on and all.
What is your connection to East Anglia?
My husband and his family.
After our engagement I came to stay for the weekend and I never left.
Adrian had an established womenswear business with numerous stores across Suffolk, they gave me an instant sense of belonging in towns I had never heard of until then.
What is your East Anglian Heaven?
I adore country fairs and village fetes and I am fortunate enough to be able to take part in these gatherings as a vendor.
I don’t necessarily have to be part of these groups or villages, but just to be welcomed there is such a privilege. So my East Anglia Heaven is the sense of community that I have felt at many a fete, like Bacton Fair, Rendlesham Show, St George’s Day parade in March and at Fen Edge Family Fun Days to name a few.
What is your East Anglian Hell?
Uugh, I did hate the thrips, or thunder flies, around harvest time.
I swore when I moved here that I would go home to Surrey each year if the infestations were to continue.
However I am sure there are less and less each year, so I now sort of miss them.
What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?
There so many great places, but if I had to choose, it would be The Walnut Tree in Thwaite.
I’m a flexitarian but their vegetarian and vegan menu is hearty and delicious.
What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?
I like to have many projects on the go, so I am often dehydrating various foods, baking sourdough bread, curing meats, making soaps from scratch or foraging for wild edibles on our walks.
What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
The Abbey Gardens and the ruins. When our son was around three, my husband and I were having a conversation in the car on the subject of heaven and our son suddenly perked up and asked ‘Is heaven like Abbey Gardens?’’
What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
The Suffolk Show, really missed it last year.
What’s your specialist Mastermind subject?
The subject of homesteading.
What is always in your fridge?
Homemade kefir and something is usually fermenting (on purpose of course) and at least three different types of milk.
Always ingredients and nothing ready to eat is the usual complaint.
What’s your favourite film?
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou or anything by Wes Anderson.
What was your first job?
I worked for a soft furnishing business during my work experience from school.
What is your most treasured possession?
A pair of earrings given to me by my aunt Daw Oo.
Who do you admire most?
What is your biggest indulgence?
Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts.
What do you like about yourself most?
I make the most of my unique abilities, I never want to stop learning and I’m always happy to laugh at myself.
What’s your worst character trait?
Leaving things to the last minute, nicknamed Last Minute Lily, although it is a trait that I am growing out of, or so I thought.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Don’t judge me, but my daughter and I love Disney World in Florida.
Best day of your life?
I was once robbed, but a few weeks later the thief came to my house, apologised and returned the money.
What’s your favourite breakfast?
Monhingar – a traditional Burmese fish based, noodle soup where one serving is never enough. Do look it up, my cousin has written a whole book on Burmese cuisine, Mandalay by Mimi Aye.
What’s your favourite tipple?
My own strawberry daiquiris
What’s your hidden talent?
I am great with orchids and have a thriving orchid collection.
When were you most embarrassed?
Two years ago, I had been learning French with audiotapes for some time and thought myself to be more than a beginner, but on a trip to Burma I had a rare opportunity to be introduced to the former French ambassador to Burma, but my mind went totally blank and I couldn’t speak.
I was mortified and soon after the meeting, I was flooded with things I could have said.
What’s your earliest memory?
My grandparents’ house built by my grandfather himself, in Yangon, the sounds of tropical bird calls through windows that were always open, the texture of the well-worn, polished, black teak floors and the light, very white, crisp bright sunlight.
Totally different from the light here.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Over the Rainbow as sung by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I am quite a proactive person so if ever we are in a zombie apocalypse, you would want to have me in your team.
What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
This is funny, but I decide to go blonde a few years ago, my mum remarked that my hair was like silk, corn silk, off a corn on the cob.
Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.
Every time I come home from anywhere and I drive past the Suffolk county sign on the A14, I literally feel the tension lift in me.
What do you want to tell our readers about most?
I would love it if your readers could get to know and support the talented small producers and local business in East Anglia.
Attend local farmers markets such as Wyken Farmers’ Market, Ipswich, Lavenham, Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds. See www.suffolkmarketevents.co.uk
Alternatively, visit us online at www.yumyumtreefudge.com.
Our fudge is vegetarian, gluten-free, no nuts and has always been made with natural flavours and real inclusions.
We are proud to offer a growing range of plant-based fudge and even have a no-added-sugar range made from birch sap.
Our fudge can be found in the Local Producers section of most East of England Co-op Stores.
And lastly, as someone originating from Burma, my heart goes out to the Burmese people who are protesting against a military coup.
If your readers would like to find out more visit Burma Campaign UK.
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