It may just be a carrot and some lettuce but there is a personality behind the produce and after my trip with Accent Fresh just over the Suffolk border, I found their personality really reflects into what they are growing.
After picking my two head chefs up, Arron Jackson and Ashley Harwood, we set off to the Accent Fresh depot and were given a quick tour of their highly professional operation from the warehouse to the prep room.
It was then onto Simon Steel's Organic Farm. It really was organic in every sense of the word, weeds sprouting everywhere, disused tractors dotted here and there and out of the undergrowth popped Simon. This man truly loves his job with just him and his wife tending the acres of land, he was growing Jerusalem artichokes, purple cabbage, the sweetest baby cucumbers and some ratte potatoes which I will be taking when they are ready.
Next stop was Roger Garret and his carrots. He appeared in Rick Stein's food heroes and I could see why. A real character, breathing life into his carrots and potatoes. We were shown the whole operation and then taken to a field to try the freshly lifted carrots. I could have listened to him all day and probably would have, but we had to go on to see where our herbs and baby leaf salad come from.
The herbary was our next port of call, run by Karen Valance. We were taken to her organic fields of bulls blood, wild roquette and baby cos amongst other things. The roquette was being harvested at the time and you could smell the peppery goodness in the air. I was getting hungry. As it is organic the fields are weeded by hand. We were taken to the storage room which has a humidifier in it to stop the leaves from drying out. The lettuce is then weighed by hand and bagged.
Last stop was Allan Miller at Nurtured in Norfolk, grower of micro cress. I was surprised when we pulled up at this very attractive suburban house and went through into his back garden and there were a few poly tunnels full of cress. The micro cress is so full of flavour, we tried lemon spinach, baby mint, yellow chard to name but a few. It didn't seem to be a massive operation but because the cress only takes a few days to grow, there is a quick turn around before the next batch is ready. His business is growing though and will be moving to new premises soon.
It was a very interesting day with interesting people and it is nice to know that they put as much passion into their product in the field as we do on the plate
Simon Barker Executive Head Chef
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