A FRESH fruit and vegetable basket scheme being launched by the Woolley Grange Hotel will include many unusual varieties.

Head gardener Eliza Reid, 45, who is in charge of the walled garden, said: “We are growing everything, including potatoes and spinach, sweetcorn, swedes and turnips, but we are picking lovely old varieties that you wouldn’t normally find at your local greengrocers.”

Eliza, who heads up a team of five, said: “We are growing four different coloured beetroots, carrots, lots of broad beans, runner and French beans and mange tout, and asparagus, as well as asparagus peas.

“We also growing 11 varieties of Heirloom tomatoes, as well as four different types of basil, plus onion, shallots and garlic, including elephant garlic which is massive.

“One of our specialities is mixed leaf salad, which has really unusual varieties of leaf, such as amaranth, shungiku and shiso.

“Every week, customers will get a bag of mixed salad in their basket, plus we will put edible flowers on sometimes as well.”

From June 26, local people will be able to buy baskets of fresh fruit and veg produced in the grounds of the 17th century Jacobean manor house.

The hotel’s marketing manager, Caroline Mackay, said: “There are not many hotels that are as into their gardens as we are and we don’t know of any others who run their own fruit, vegetable and flower basket scheme.

“We want to become more involved in our local community so we have also opened the Potting Shed shop, so locals can also pop in for last minute fruit and veg for tea and also buy freshly grown and picked flowers.”

The hotel at Woolley, on the edge of Bradford on Avon, has just under an acre of walled gardens, which have been sown with a wide variety of seasonal fruit and vegetables.

They include soft fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, black currants, redcurrants, gooseberries, loganberries, tayberries, apples, pears, cherries, plums and peaches.

Ms Reid added: “Like many gardens, we have problems with rabbits and pigeons and are having to cover up and protect some of the crops they like with a mesh.

“With slugs and snails we have a gang of ducks who we use to patrol the borders to keep them at bay.

“We are making a huge effort to reduce waste so we won’t be using any plastic and all packaging will be compostable and the baskets will hand woven and reusable.”

Anyone wishing to register for the scheme should email thepottingshed@woolleygrangehotel.co.uk