Macknade Fine Foods – the embodiment of my family and our passion for food.
In the late 70s (1979 to be exact, the year I was born!) my father Renato took over a field with a tent in the Garden of England to grow weird and wonderful produce and create 20 acres of Pick Your Own heaven. Originally from the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples he brought with him his continental, all encompassing food culture.
With the support of my mother Patricia, the daughter of a local farmer with a deep-rooted love for the Kent land, Macknade came about. But that wasn’t the beginning of the story….
In 1847, Frederick Neame Snr (my mother’s great, great grandfather and my great, great, great grandfather!) took on Macknade Farm and, with his son Fredrick Jnr, grew it into one of the region’s leading growers, nationally renowned for its hard fruit, hops and livestock.
Frederick Jnr’s son Thomas followed in the family tradition in 1919 and, as the ‘young buck’, pioneered co-operative marketing and promoted the quality of Kentish produce in the face of growing competition from abroad. In 1947 pears from the Macknade orchards were served at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Phillip Mountbatten.
By the mid-1950s, my Grandfather Basil had taken over. The 60s and 70s were good to Kentish farming but as international imports and a changing world piled on the pressure there was need to diversify.
This is where we come back to my mother and father and the tent in a field that some 35 years later, with support from our food loving customers, has evolved into Macknade Fine Foods.
My family no longer farm but our food hall is right at the heart of where we started some 170 years ago and our heart is, just as it has always been, in our food and the people we share it with.