National Cherry Day, celebrated on July 16, was established as a day to raise awareness of Britain’s cherries – during the 20th century Britain lost 90 per cent of its cherry orchards. Following the wars, cherry orchards were planted over with more vital crops to feed the people.
National Cherry Day started in 2008 as part of CherryAid, a campaign to save the British cherry. People became aware of the issue and implemented actions to improve the situation. Between 2003 and 2008 produce increased by 17 per cent according to Defra. The British Summer Fruits, a trade body, indicated that last season growers produced 80% more cherries than last year. Yet the UK still imports around 95 per cent of cherries.
Cherry orchards support other parts of the ecosystem. Cherry trees host mistletoe and are critical to its survival in Britain. The cherry blossom and the fruit feeds many birds and insects too. One of the most famous cherry tree concentrations within London, which measures some 5,000 square meters, is in Kew Gardens. Many native cherry varieties can be spotted there such as Merchant, Sunburst, Stella, Skeena, Regina, Kordia, Lapins, Colney, Sweetheart and Penny.
National Cherry Day provides an opportunity for hospitality businesses to reflect on their suppliers. Hotels can source more locally and build their menus around seasonal produce. Considerate Hoteliers encourages its members to include British cherries on their menus during the British cherry season and especially on National Cherry Day in either sweet or savoury dishes and share pictures social media.
More interesting facts and recipes with the British cherry can be found on the Seasonal Berries website.