Kent, famously known as the Garden of England has a long history of growing delicious fruits and vegetables.

At the moment, following the stunningly beautiful spring cherry blossom we have local cherries galore, whether you buy them from vendors in lay-by’s, farmers markets, local greengrocers or from the many, pick your own sites, our local Kent cherries are a real treat!

History tells us the Romans introduced sweet cherries to Britain which continued to be cultivated long after the Romans left our shores.

It was during the reign of Henry VIII that a fruit nursery was first established at Teynham, this including the growing of cherries. Kent was, and still remains. the centre of UK’s cherry growing. Unfortunately, we have lost more than 4,000ha of cherry orchards since the start of the 20th century. Now down to only 600ha it is more important than ever to support our local farmers who are growing cherries.

We are coming up to National Cherry Day 16th July which was started in 2008 as part of Cherry Aid, a campaign to save the British Cherry. If you have a garden why not plant your own cherry tree, they will reward you with the most amazing blossom in spring followed by delicious cherries in Summer. Pop along to Brogdale Farm which is home to over 300 different varieties of cherry, there may be one which suits you perfectly.

Apart from the most delicious taste why should we be eating more local grown cherries?

On the health front cherries are high in Vitamin A, and betacarotene they also contains B1 thiamin, B2 riboflavin, B3 niacin, B5 pantothenic acid, B6 pyridoxine, B9 folate, the B vitamins are known to protect the brain from shrinkage which is a thought to be a risk of Alzheimers. C, E, K,

Cherries are high in the electrolyte Potassium with traces of sodium. The high levels of potassium contained in cherries can help prevent osteoporosis, potassium also works with magnesium to play an essential role in heart function. A diet rich in potassium can help with lowering blood pressure.

Cherries contain powerful antioxidants like anthocyanins and cyanidin so help the body neutralise free radicals which may slow down the aging process, and are thought to help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, and post exercise muscle pain, support healthy sleep, lower risk of stroke and reduce arthritic pain.

Cherries also have a good source of the minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc and the phytonutrient Lutein-zeaxanthin.

Studies have suggested that cherry intake is associated with a lower risk of gout attacks. US researchers have found that drinking tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes among older adults with insomnia. Scientists have discovered that a group of naturally occurring chemicals found in cherries could help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.