Name: Sarj Patel
Store: Pasture Lane Store
Location: Sutton Bonington, Loughborough
Product: Fruit and veg by food science students at Nottingham University, £1.49 for bag of eight apples/£1.20 for 2kg potatoes
For this week's My Local Hero, we spoke to retailer Sarj Patel about his formula for success – fruit and veg grown by local student scientists
Where did you discover them?
Four years ago, lecturers from Nottingham University’s food science department asked if I’d be interested in stocking produce farmed by the students on the campus farm. I was happy to give it a go and started taking delivery of their produce. I was impressed by the standard. As students, these aspiring farmers can’t be official business suppliers, so I don’t make a profit from what I sell for them. I do it because it’s good for the community.
Who buys them?
People of all ages in our village buy the students’ produce, even those who usually get their fruit and veg from the supermarket, because it’s excellent quality. Like many of the things we sell in our shop, word of mouth has been crucial to making this produce a success. A lot of people in our community work at the university so they are particularly keen to support the students. The organic lemons, onions, potatoes and much more go down very well with our customers.
Why are they so successful?
The taste can be unbelievable. The one downside is the produce doesn’t have a long shelf life – around six to seven days. But that’s not usually a problem as the apples and potatoes sell pretty quickly. The apples are crisp and succulent, there’s a fantastic crunch to them, and the potatoes are always wholesome. They’re also reasonably priced by the standards of much organic food. They’re lovely and I never have any hesitation about recommending them to customers.