Author hopes to get people to make use of local shops

Expert gardener Fergus Garrett and the author Rachel Holtom
Expert gardener Fergus Garrett and the author Rachel Holtom

A FOODIE is hoping her new book will encourage more people to shop locally as well as raising cash for a horticultural project.

Rachel Holtom teaches yoga in St Leonards but previously worked with a string of healthy eating and produce schemes.

That included a spell with the Parchment Trust at its gardening centre on The Ridge, and it was with that in mind she decided to write Hastings Harvest.

Proceeds from the book, which was launched at the charity’s Friary Gardens HQ on June 8, will go to the trust to help fund its work teaching young disabled adults horticultural skills.

It was made possible thanks to a grant from the Sussex Community Foundation and is geared toward vegetarians.

And Mrs Holtom is hoping the tome will inspire readers to shun supermarkets in favour of some of the many smaller, independent shops dotted across 1066 Country.

Hastings Harvest includes 12 chapters, each featuring a different local character, with sections on a beekeeper, an orchard owner, allotmenter, a baker, an expert gardener and even someone discussing war time menus.

And it is full of recipes made up of locally sourced ingredients.

Speaking shortly before the launch, Mrs Holtom said: “The Parchment Trust does a fantastic job and it would be great to help raise its profile and generate some funds for it through this book.

“But it is also about getting people to use local produce and make use of their local shops.

“There is a misconception that shopping outside of the supermarkets can be more expensive but that just isn’t true if you shop around. It is also far more pleasant using smaller shops and here in Hastings we are well served by them.”

The author name-checked the likes of Trinity Wholefoods, Judges and Plenty as good examples of independent stores - and said she hoped her book would also remind people that Friary Gardens itself operates a well-stocked nursery and it branching out into vegetable sales.

“My book is about the unsung heroes of the food industry in Hastings and St Leonards,” Mrs Holtom added. “I know a lot of people who grow their own produce - it would be lovely if this could inspire a few more people to try it.”

Hastings Harvest is priced £5 and is available from shops across Hastings now, including Judges, Plenty and Trinity Wholefoods.