‘New Forest Marque creates awareness of what is on doorstep’

July 28, 2016

Sue Cook

MARQUED UP: Claire Lee of Spice’n Easy take s a quick 30 second break to pose for this snap at her stall at this year’s New Forest Show. She has been a member of the New Forest Marque since 2008 and helps other members to maximise the potential of their products.

 New Forest Marque

FROM THE FOREST: New Forest Marque directors Joanne Cull and Rebecca Wade show a diversity of products produced and crafted by New Forest Marque members.

Wooden products

WOOD WORKS: Sue Gibbs of Creative Woodcrafts with some of the wide range of toys made by her husband Keith. They are accreditated New Forest Marque producers.

 

ONE of the New Forest’s unsung heroes is a group that is doing an effective job of branding the region’s produce.

In my previous career writing on rural issues for local newspapers in Dorset and Somerset in the Noughties, I was aware of the hard work into promoting local food by Somerset Food Links and other similar organisations. As well as food, the New Forest Marque has accredited craft producers too.

The marque was brought in 2004 as a way to develop and promote the production, processing and distribution of local produce.

The marque covers the South West part of Hampshire that covers the New Forest from Bransgore in the extreme south west corner of the park, to Fordingbridge in the north and across the south east of the park where Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway is.

I was out and about the stalls and bumped into Marque directors Joanne Cull, who runs a small plant nursery and cutting flower garden, and Rebecca Wade of Purple Dog, a company that helps the marque members promote their produce. Their stall had a number of hand-crafted items and some artisan produced food made by Marque members.

Marque chairman Jane Overall has been at the helm for seven years and up until her recent retirement, she had been running her own successful food-related businesses.

Moments later I met up with another director, Claire Lee, who runs Spice’n Easy. She set the company up on returning to the UK having lived in Penang, Malaysia with her family for two years and then mixing some of their ideas with traditional New Forest produce.

In a question and answer session on the producers section of the New Forest Marque website, she tells some of her own story.

“When our farm opened a farm shop they asked me to make chutneys for the shop. I started with just three varieties and now I have over 30 lines.

“Spice’n Easy is made using New Forest raw ingredients wherever possible. The unique flavours are produced using local and seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables along with herbs and spices from around the world.

“I joined the Marque in 2008 as I wanted to join in the movement to promote our wonderful produce. I am working with existing customers to promote produce from the New Forest and looking for ways to increase awareness of just how much excellent food is available on our doorstep.”

Another exhibitor in the New Forest producer section of the show area was traditional craftsman  Keith Gibbs of Creative Woodcrafts whose wife Sue was doing a sterling job of promoting the range of creatively made wooden toys on display.

The Bransgore-based outfit are a family-run firm that craft unique toys from predominantly New Forest oak. Sustainably-produced wood is used to create items as diverse as animals and planes to a traditionally-made rocking horse.

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