THE Island of Jersey has been championing the benefits of supporting local producers, products and produce long before ‘buying local’ became a popular movement.
Jersey may only encompass 45 square miles but its most famous specialist produce – Jersey Royal potatoes, tomatoes and dairy products – have enjoyed an enviable reputation for generations. At the height of the post-Second World War agricultural boom, before the finance industry became the dominant contributor to the Island’s economy, life revolved around the seasons and the overriding aim to get fresh produce to the UK markets as quickly as possible.
Today, while the Jersey Royal potato is still the dominant crop and the tomato industry has declined in face of competition from UK and European producers, the Island can be justifiably proud of an abundance of fresh, seasonal produce. For a small community it also boasts a variety of skilled craftsmen and artists who create a range of excellent products. This diversity and wide choice is partly due to the efforts of the Genuine Jersey Products Association.
If residents and visitors want to enjoy the best that Jersey has to offer they can do so by buying goods that carry the Genuine Jersey mark – the guarantee of local provenance. Goods carrying this distinctive mark have been reared, grown or caught in Jersey or created by accredited Islanders and local businesses who qualify to be members of the Genuine Jersey Products Association.
Products carrying the distinctive Genuine Jersey mark include dairy goods, fruit and vegetables, herbs and salads, beef, pork and lamb, fish and shellfish, pottery and woodwork, wines, ciders, spirits and beers, jewellery, needlework, decorative stonework, glassware and art and crafts. Genuine Jersey goods can be bought in the main shopping centre in St Helier and from many other outlets Islandwide – including, galleries, studios, tourist attractions and heritage sites, farm shops and markets – and sampled in restaurants, pubs, cafés and from ice cream stalls.
Genuine Jersey was launched in 2001 by a small group of Island businessmen who recognised the value of offering distinct and unique local goods and who were keen to promote the diversity and quality of local produce and products. The Association founders were also concerned that visitors were being misled into believing that goods and souvenirs were made in Jersey when they were not. Take as an example the choices of fudge on sale in Jersey. While some brands are made with cream from Jersey cows, these animals are farmed in the UK and have never grazed on the lush green grass of the Island’s meadows, nor are the sweets made locally.
Since the Association started it has attracted a loyal and enthusiastic membership. While some members ensure the survival of Jersey’s heritage and traditions, others are at the forefront of introducing pioneering farming methods, new crops or exploring previously untapped international markets.
The Genuine Jersey Products Association charter lays down the terms and conditions that members must comply with. This ensures that when Islanders and visitors buy produce and products bearing the mark they can do so in the knowledge that they are supporting local jobs and boosting the Island’s economy. Moreover, they are also doing their bit to mitigate the adverse effects of global warming by reducing air miles and Jersey’s carbon footprint.
In addition to members’ subscriptions, the Association receives a grant from the Island’s government, the States of Jersey, through the Growth, Housing and Environment Department. The promotion of the Genuine Jersey brand is in accordance with government strategies which promote sustainability, innovation in the land use and tourism sectors.
The Genuine Jersey Products Association is committed to raising awareness of local goods and supporting all those involved in their production. This is achieved in part by educating residents and visitors about the benefits of buying local and informing them about the range and diversity of seasonal produce on offer. The Association also sponsors competitions and educational initiatives in Island schools, often in conjunction with local businesses looking to support the rural economy.
Our membership has diversified to include the wide range of businesses that thrive in 21st century Jersey. There is a reason for this – members all find a positive benefit in belonging to an organisation which promotes growth, sustainability and innovation.
Today the distinctive Genuine Jersey mark is seen as a byword for the best the Island has to offer – look for it before you buy.