For nearly a hundred years, one of the main crops grown in Badsey and the surrounding area was asparagus; from the late 19th century until the Second World War, the Vale of Evesham was the premier asparagus growing area of England. Long beloved by the Greeks and Romans, asparagus was brought to England in the 16th century. By the 17th century it was being grown commercially in London; by the 19th century, when the capital city was becoming too built up, asparagus fields were set up in the Vale of Evesham. The decline set in after the Second World War and the growing of asparagus has virtually disappeared in Badsey.
But, within the Vale, there are attempts to keep the asparagus tradition alive. Each year, an annual asparagus auction is held at The Fleece Inn in the neighbouring parish of Bretforton. The Evesham Asparagus Festival has been held since 2005. Pubs such as The Round of Gras (formerly The Royal Oak but renamed in 1967) in Badsey offer asparagus suppers in season.
The Badsey Society’s DVD, Asparagus: Traditional Asparagus Growing in the Vale of Evesham, explains the fast vanishing methods of cultivation, as well as describing the local approach to cooking, exhibiting and the manufacture of asparagus knives. It is available at The Spar Shop, Badsey, or by mail order from www.badsey.org.uk/society).