Scilly Hotel Aiming To Develop More Local Produce Links

St Mary's Hall Hotel

St Mary’s Hall Hotel

An island hotel held a special lunch meeting yesterday for farmers, growers and fishermen, to help them source as much local produce as possible for their menus this year.

St Mary’s Hall Hotel bar and restaurant manager, Ben Robbins, said he wants to create a map of what’s available, and when, on the islands.

Around ten producers came along, ready to supply everything from St Martin’s micro leaves to Bryher lobsters and St Mary’s potatoes.

Ben, who worked at Cornwall’s Eden Project before moving here this season, says he’s passionate about sourcing local food because he believes it’s a more sustainable way to run a business, especially in such an isolated place as Scilly.

But he says the hotel’s chef will have to be very flexible when setting menus that use local produce, some of which might only be available for a short period.

Ben says that while sourcing locally can be a little more expensive, there are savings on the freight costs, which often balance out.

And he says guests these days want to know where their food comes from, especially after the recent Europe-wide scandal over horsemeat.

The supply of fresh food in Scilly can be limited, but Ben says he wants to work with producers to create a larger market. Some crops like salad can go from seed to plate in a matter of weeks, he says, so by getting in early, he hopes to persuade producers to grow crops just for the hotel.

Fisherman Keith Low from St Martins, who attended yesterday, said the islands had been through a very rough patch over the last few years and it was more important than ever for visitors to experience the best that Scilly has to offer.

The hotel is still keen to talk to producers who couldn’t make yesterday’s meeting.