Edward wharton

I am the third generation grower of blackcurrants for Ribena.  My grandfather was an original supplier to Beechams through Norfolk Fruit Growers. My three girls are now old enough to get involved with the harvest.

How long have you been growing blackcurrants?

We’ve been growing for three generations and I have been growing blackcurrants for 30 years and on the back of the harvester in my teens too.

What varieties do you grow and in what region?

We farm within the Norfolk Broads which is in East Norfolk. We grow Ben Gairn, Ben Starav, Ben Vane, Ben Hope, Ben Avon, Ben Alder, Ben Dorain and Ben Klibrek.

How much do you harvest annually and where do they go?

We harvest about 400 tonnes per year for Ribena.

What else do you grow?
We grow wheat, winter barley, spring barley,  oilseed rape, potatoes, sugar beet, vining peas, mint and dried peas.
Why do you love growing blackcurrants?
I enjoy the different challenges of growing a fruit crop, coping with the numerous factors that can influence the success of a season, creating a habitat that encourages so much biodiversity and the fact that all my full time and part time staff (and family) so enjoy being involved with the production of the raw material for such a household name. It’s never boring.
Can you give one tip that people could benefit from when growing blackcurrants?

I think there is so much experience between the other growers that I would never dream of offering advice…except never book a holiday for the first week of July as that will be the year we have an early harvest!

Can you tell us about some of the ways in which you manage the land sustainably?

We are involved with the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and consider the environmental impact of everything we do.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy blackcurrants?
On a very hot summer’s day a pint of Ribena with lots of ice can’t be beaten…and occasionally with milk. Delicious,  just like a blackcurrant milkshake.
If you were a blackcurrant artist what genre of art do you think best represents you in your growing approach and why?

I think I’d be an impressionist…influenced by the old masters but hopefully embracing new techniques and producing, in my own style, something that everyone likes and wants more of.