Pershore Juneberries is the first commercial grower of juneberries in the UK. Juneberries are a unique fruit, as they look like a blueberry, but are most similar to an apple in their taste. The business was created in 2015, and with support from Pershore Horticultural College, imported 300 young juneberry trees from Canada. Over the next two years the trees became established and the plantation became bigger.
Business owner Sophie Sidaway has since gone on to become the first commercial grower of this unique fruit in the UK, benefitting greatly from the purchase of a bespoke berry harvester. The business was awarded a grant of £5,300 to fund the new equipment by the LEADER programme, which is delivered by Worcestershire County Council.
Sophie Sidaway said: "Early harvests were possible picking berries by hand, but as yields grew, it was necessary to automate. We needed berry harvesting equipment but with the limited resources of a start-up, were looking for a match funding grant scheme. Since using the berry harvester, Pershore Juneberries has become much more efficient, fruit waste has been reduced, and ultimately our turnover has increased."
The business has gone from strength to strength, and much of their fruit is now sold to chefs in restaurants and hotels throughout the country via their distributors.
LEADER is part of the Rural Development Programme for England and is delivered locally by Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire Local Action Group on behalf of Defra. The focus of the programme is on growing the economies of rural communities by enabling local people to identify and implement solutions to local problems.
For more information, visit the LEADER pages on Worcestershire County Council's website.