Name: Alan North (head gardener)
Where: Audley End estate, Saffron Walden
Crops you are likely to find in your box: apples. plums, kale, carrots, tomatoes, beans
Of all the local farms that supply our box scheme the organic kitchen garden at Audley End house must be the most prestigious. It is special in many ways. For starters it is one of our suppliers that members of our box scheme can actually go and visit. Much more than this though, the gardens themselves are a completely unique proposition. The original walled garden dates back to the Victorian era, and in its hey day would have had all manner of poisons applied to satisfy the exacting demands of the estate's owners. However, when the gardens were restored in 1999 the decision was made to employ organic gardening techniques. The restoration was undertaken by Mike Thurlow who continued as head gardener until July 2012. Who would be taken on to fill this important role? was the question on everybody's lips. And the answer was Alan North. Pleasingly, Alan (pictured on the front cover with deputy head gardener Sam Hartley in the background) is a local boy. He grew up around Bury St. Edmunds and even played football for Bury Town Football club. Before joining English Heritage he had spent four years as head gardener at Wyken Hall in Suffolk and he has also worked as a gardener at Madingley Hall and for the Royal Horticultural Society.
From our perspective Alan's appointment as head gardener has been just brilliant. Our relationship with Audley End had continued happily ever since the gardens were restored but Mike's replacement may well have had other ideas about where the produce from the garden went. Happily though, Alan has not only been pleased to continue sending produce from the garden in our direction, he has also brought a renewed vigour to the garden. 'I am very passionate about growing produce organically and am delighted to be involved in such a special environment' says Alan.