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Meet preserve maker Joanne Michelle Harrell

PUBLISHED: 15:18 10 October 2015 | UPDATED: 15:18 10 October 2015

Joanne Harrell

Joanne Harrell

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Upchurch-based Joanne Harrell makes jam and chutney in her kitchen from the fruit and veg she grows at home

Name: Joanne Michelle Harrell

Job title: Preserve maker

Where? Upchurch, near Sittingbourne

TELL US ABOUT THE BUSINESS

I used to work in an office but after my son was born I was looking for a change of direction. By chance I had a glut of cherry tomatoes spilling over our patio and I made a batch of tomato and chilli jam. Then when I was invited out to dinner, instead of taking flowers or chocolates I took jars of home-made preserves. My friends kept telling me it was so good that I should start a business. An advisor encouraged me to go ahead and I received a small grant to help me set up and I ploughed the money into buying the absolute basics to get started.

WHO OR WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION?

My mother, Kathleen, whose garden adjoins mine, has always been a very keen gardener. She inspired me to grow the fruit and vegetables that are the foundation of my business. Joanne’s Preserves is very much a ‘plot-to-pot’ business.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN 
IN BUSINESS?

I have been making preserves for 11 years as a hobby and I turned it into a business in 2012. I have loved every moment.

HAVE YOU HAD ANY TRAINING?

I’ve had absolutely no formal training, although I always enjoyed rural science and cooking at school and this has been a useful background. I learnt a lot about growing from my mother and the rest I learned on the job – and of course, I am always experimenting with new recipes

WHAT DO YOU GROW?

Raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, courgettes, apples, pears and more!

HOW DO YOU MARKET?

A lot of people buy at the door and I also regularly attend Rochester Farmers’ Market and various events such as our village fête, the May Rochester Sweeps’ Festival, Chatham’s Salute to the Forties and the Hempstead Valley Food and Drink Festival. I have many regular clients and demand for my preserves continues to grow.

I have my product on sale in the local farm shop The Barnyard at Gore Farm and a few other local retail outlets.

I’ve produced leaflets and I advertise Joanne’s Preserves on my website.

DO YOU EMPLOY any staff?

I really am a sole trader but I have lots of friends who pop in for a ‘chat and a chop!’ It is wonderful to have them around and their help is invaluable. It helps to make the work even more satisfying and fun.

DESCRIBE YOUR WORKING DAY

Every day is wonderfully different. Today I have hulled 40lbs of strawberries ready to be made into jam. I have also prepared 40kilos of shallots which I am making into three different types of pickle – plain, chilli, and chilli and garlic. There are orders to fulfil and I also deal with a lot of telephone enquiries and of course there is always admin and other office work to deal with.

ANY CHILDREN FOLLOWING 
IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS?

My son George is 12 and at the moment he has absolutely no interest in the business. I would be delighted if that changed.

MARKS OUT OF 10?

Every day it’s a 10. Never less! w

Get in touch

Joanne’s Preserves, 2, Marston Close, 
Upchurch, Sittingbourne ME9 7BJ

01634 233630 or j.m.harrell007@btinternet.com

www.joannespreserves.co.uk

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