Earn cash for your home grown veg at Suffolk pub

Head chef Ashley Robertson of The Lion Brasserie in East Bergholt hands some Lion Pounds to a customer for his rhubarb

Head chef Ashley Robertson of The Lion Brasserie in East Bergholt hands some Lion Pounds to Timothy Leese for his rhubarb - Credit: James Barber

An award-winning pub in south Suffolk is offering locals the chance to make a bit of ‘cash’ from their hobby. 

As part of a new scheme, The Lion Brasserie in East Bergholt (which won the Taste of East of England at this year’s East of England Tourism Awards), pays allotment and garden growers for their gluts of fruit and veggies in Lion Pounds – which can be put towards food and drink in the bar and dining rooms. 

It’s a way, says manager James Barber, of preventing local food waste, challenging the kitchen, and injecting some interesting, heritage produce into the menus. 

“We came up with the scheme a few weeks ago when someone came to use with loads of leftover rhubarb they couldn’t use themselves,” says James. 

“We wanted to buy it off them, but we also wanted them to come back, and make a relationship with them, so we decided to make our Lion Pounds. We find out how much we’d pay, market price, to our usual veg supplier and give them the same value.” 

“We’ve had all sorts in the kitchen already...lots of chard and herbs and lettuces,” says head chef Ashley Robertson. “It’s going really well, but it would be nice to get a few more people through the door with their produce. I’d especially love courgettes...and courgette flowers – a lot of those come from Holland in this country. And I’d welcome heritage tomatoes.” 

Naturally, quality comes first, and Ashley says he personally inspects everything that comes into the kitchen. “If something comes in and it’s not quite right, we have to be honest. But mostly everyone growing their own understands that and the scheme is going from strength-to-strength. 

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“I hope we can grow some of our own vegetables here in the future. And I’m looking forward to bees coming later in the summer, so we can jar up our own honey.” 

The summer menu is in full flow at the pub currently. Dishes include lobster thermidor, oysters, scallops with king prawns, chilli and garlic butter, Barnsley chops with heritage tomato salad, and lavender crème brulee. 

“We’re selling mussels by the bucketload too,” Ashley laughs. 

If you have excess produce to sell from your garden kitchen or allotment, call The Lion on 01206 803406. The pub is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.