City caterer Lusso has teamed up with the National Fruit Collection to launch an initiative that will see forgotten, rare or unfashionable home-grown varieties of apple served at its sites.
The "neighbourhood crops" partnership, brokered by fresh produce supplier Reynolds, is in response to one of the worst apple seasons for many years.
The National Fruit Collection, based at Brogdale Farm, near Faversham, Kent, is home to the world's largest collection of fruit trees and plants and includes more than 3,500 Apple, Pear, Plum, Cherry, and Cob Nut cultivars.
Lusso has scored a food service first by working with Brogdale to bring to market some of these rare apple varieties this autumn.
Crops such as Red Charles Ross, Ribston Pippens, and Oaken Pin will be picked in tiny quantities from only two trees of each variety.
Each 5kg box will identify the variety, but will be delivered without any other advance warning. Not all the fruit will necessarily look pristine, but Lusso is employing a "you must eat your greens" approach and customers won't be able to send them back.
The initiative is launching initially with three clients: Hogan Lovells; SJ Berwin; and Norton Rose.
The National Fruit Collection is owned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of a programme to protect plant resources for the future, while the University of Reading has responsibility for maintaining the Collection.
This new initiative follows the success of Lusso's "Ugly Fish Friday" campaign - a stand against a fishing quota system that sees fish caught thrown back, dead.
Every Friday, Lusso sites feature a variety of "Ugly Fish" on the menu, cooked to order in a choice of ways. Six months after launch, Lusso has sold 4,000 "Ugly Fish" portions and extended the project with a pop-up stall at Whitecross Street Market.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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