We look beyond certifications and labels, measuring the sustainability of a grower’s practice on an individual basis. Fundamentally, we work with growers driven by flavour, not yield and their growing methods reflect that choice. By having real transparency in our interaction with our growers, we are able to know exactly how they grow.
Incredible flavour is a good indicator that a plant is grown sustainably, but we have identified six growing methods that we believe are key to building a more sustainable food system. We look for at least one of these techniques in each of our growers. Where there is room for improvement in their practice, we offer our support to make the transition possible.
We build the necessary infrastructure for small-scale growers to supply their produce at a higher volume without the need to compromise on the sustainability of their methods.
Promoting the presence of bacteria & fungi, grasses, trees, insects and mammals on the land.
Creating a natural environment in order to encourage this biodiversity through limited or no use of pesticides.
i.e. Jean-Emmanuel Rigas, Montauban
Wildflowers and linseed grow between his grape trellises as natural pest control, resulting in open pollination of his eight different varieties.
NO OR MINIMAL USE OF CHEMICAL INTERVENTION
Provide transparency on use and frequency of chemical and synthetic fertilisers, and pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides).
Use of these measures is limited to a last resort, if at all.
i.e. Oli at Mora Farm, Cornwall.
Inspired by the Natural Farming philosophy of Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, Oli treats his quarter-acre fields as small gardens - letting biodiversity flourish and nurturing the soil for the future.
Selection of heritage varieties for flavour, not yield or shelf life.
Saving own seeds year on year from their best performing plants for future crops.
i.e. Martin & Ted Sanders’ Purple Sprouting Broccoli.
Martin and Ted are the third and fourth generations of their family to be saving seeds of Purple Sprouting Broccoli, capturing the physical characteristics that they value most: multiple sideshoots, deep purple heads and tender, leafy stalks.
TRADITIONAL GROWING TECHNIQUES
Practice of traditional growing methods that preserve the cultural artistry of their growing region.
Producing varieties with the unique characteristics that industrial practices are in danger of eliminating.
i.e. Sand-forced Pink Radicchio.
Most industrial growers plant modern varieties that have been developed to ‘self-blanch’ in the field. Our grower Antonello perseveres with sand-forcing for the delicately-balanced flavour, dense texture and standout colour that only this unique method of growing can produce.
No or low tillage of the land to protect ecosystems against soil erosion and nutritional depletion.
Low tillage also contributes to increasing organic soil matter and sequester carbon.
Cover cropping: This practice suppresses weeds, manages soil erosion, helps to boost soil fertility, controls diseases and pests.
Crop rotation: allowing soil to rest for a full growing season. This practice restores the nutritional deficits caused by the cultivation of particular varieties.
Composting: using it to build organic matter and provide natural fertiliser.
i.e. Oscar Zerbinati in Mantua, Italy
Oscar solarises the fields post the last harvest in September to cleanse the soil, adds manure and tills it, preparing it for a rest over the winter. Soil rotation is practiced through excess land that is not cultivated year round. Legumes are planted to regenerate and reinvigorate the soil.
Use of renewable energy in their production.
Close attention paid to their waste production and resource use.
Use of a water conservation system.
Recyclable or compostable packaging.
i.e. Crocadon Farm, Cornwall
Our farm in Cornwall has water conservation systems in all the sink units used for washing vegetables and salads. Silt and residue is filtered at the bottom of the unit and clean water is then recycled into the hose. These systems significantly reduce the volume of water used on our farm.