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Oli Pascall from Clock House Farm in Coxheath features in Marks and Spencer TV advert championing Kent grown Victoria blackberries

A fourth generation farmer who grows 'the best blackberry variety in the county' will tonight appear in front of 39 million people in a TV advert for Marks and Spencer (M&S).

Clock House Farm in Coxheath, which supplies around 40% of the UK blackberry market, has been filming with the supermarket for its ‘Fresh Market Update’ campaign.

Victoria blackberries are naturally sweeter than other varieties
Victoria blackberries are naturally sweeter than other varieties

It aims to shine a spotlight on the lengths its Select Farmers, like Clock House Farm, go to across the country to deliver home-grown produce.

Tonight, Oli Pascall who is also the managing director at the farm, will champion his Victoria blackberries which are known for being substantially sweeter than others in a four part advert set for our screens until Thursday.

While nervous about appearing on the TV, Mr Pascall says he hopes it will serve as a way of getting the public reconnected to agriculture.

The 31-year-old explained: "I think it's something we as farmers have a responsibility to do and it's awesome to be able to show what we do while taking the art of growing to our customers.

"It's important for people to know what to look out for on the label and for us it's the Victoria variety when it comes to blackberries.

Oli Pascall, Managing Director at Clock House Farm with produce destined for supermarket shelves
Oli Pascall, Managing Director at Clock House Farm with produce destined for supermarket shelves

"We believe this is the best variety in the country because of a very careful selection of breeding and it has been a real game changer in the marketplace."

One thing Mr Pascall says he is keen to show in the ad is that his blackberries are so sweet, there is no need to add sugar.

He added: "Blackberries have got this association with crumble but the variety we grow is completely different.

"These are suitable for snacking and also for lots of other desserts, they don't need to be cooked into something.

"Ironically, when I take blackberries home, maybe this is just laziness, but just eating them fresh on their own or with a little bit of ice cream does the trick."

The blackberries are picked by a team of around 60 people
The blackberries are picked by a team of around 60 people

Jane Peckham, the farm's recruitment manager, also suggests people should try blackberries with savory dishes, in salsas or hummus, or tossing them into salads.

When asked what makes the perfect blackberry, Mr Pascall said hands down the Victoria variety, which has taken decades of work to perfect, is key alongside cultivation and then picking

He explained: "We make sure we have the right sized canes on the plants to produce the right size fruit.

"We then carefully irrigate them to give them the right nutrients they need to grow into a strong plant.

"You also need good pollinators and then it's about getting the right berries in the punnets at the right time; the ones with the fully swollen, bulging droplets."

The crop grows across 18 hectares
The crop grows across 18 hectares

Clock House Farm has been growing this specific type of blackberry for around nine years and the crop grows across 18 hectares.

There is a further 30 hectares near Tonbridge and it extends its blackberry growing season at the Kenardington glasshouse near Ashford.

But despite the award winning fruit featuring in the four part series of adverts, raspberries are actually Clock House Farm's biggest crop.

It also grows strawberries, apples, pears and plums across 330 hectares to the south of Coxheath for the supermarket.

Blackberry season runs between April and December and they are picked by a team of around 60 people who only ever pick blackberries and know exactly what to look for by tasting.

Mr Pascall said: "Some blackberries that look ripe will be left on the plant for another three days to swell and fill it with flavour so it’s not a low skilled job. It's for someone who has had a lot of training and practice."

The family run farm was originally set up by Clive Murdoch, Mr Pascall's great grandfather, in 1903.

It grew hops and cherries before expanding into soft fruit in the 80s.

Andrew Mellonie, Produce and Horticulture Agronomist at M&S, added: “We care about where our food comes from and it’s a joy to shine a light on the unique, talented and passionate farmers we work with at M&S, including Clock House Farm, which is truly passionate about utilising and investing in the most effective and innovative growing techniques to allow it to continue to supply the very best premium British quality fruit.

“Our innovative producers allow us to deliver not only fantastic quality for our customers, but also the very best British seasonal produce. We hope families from across the country will enjoy their Victoria blackberries this season.”

The first of four adverts will air tonight on ITV at 6pm after the news.

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