British asparagus fans are on a mission to Brussels next week to promote the “green stuff” to their continental neighbours.
MEP Anthea McIntyre will host a visit to the European Parliament by growers and aficianados from the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire – the area considered by many to produce the finest asparagus in the world.
She said: “If you love fresh asparagus this is some of the most delicious you can get. This is our chance to shout about it to Europe and the world.”
Accompanied by mascot Gus the Asparagus Man as well as St George, the delegation will deliver a big bundle of freshly-cut local “gras” to the heart of the European Union to highlight its unbeatable quality, colour and flavour.
The trip will celebrate and say “thank you” for the granting of EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status to Vale of Evesham Asparagus earlier this year.
The team willl be greeted outside the Parliament on Tuesday April 25 by Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, who will then take them inside to lunch with MEPs.
The delegation – all dressed in green – will set out from Bretforton in a mini bus the day before, with a send-off at the Fleece Inn, home of the renowned asparagus auction which is a focal point of the annual British Asparagus Festival.
Among the delegation will be Nigel Smith, landlord of the Fleece and festival chairman; Matt Foster, managing director of West Growers, of Defford near Pershore; festival director Tash Daley; Angela Tidmarsh, tourism officer for Wychavon District Council and co-founder of the festival; grower and farm shop-owner Darren Hedges; and Wychavon marketing and events officer Steve Knight. Plus St George and Gus, of course.
Miss McIntyre said: “It took four years of hard work to win PGI status but it is so worthwhile. Now nobody can attempt to pass off an inferior product as Vale of Evesham – and the protection puts our product on a par with Champagne or Parma ham.
“I am looking forward to welcoming them all to Brussels and spreading the word that you haven’t really lived until you’v e enjoyed Vale of Evesham asparagus.”