Fin and farm - My visit to Nutbourne tomato producers and Rock Farm.
I woke up this morning to beautiful sunshine, grabbed my notebook and camera, and went to meet the lovely Muir from Fin and farm. She had very kindly offered to show me around 2 of their many Sussex suppliers to show me why they offer the best quality food in their home delivery boxes.
We met at V &H Cafe in Holland road in Hove. Where owner and award winning Harry, made me a perfect Flat white. Muir wanted to show me the kind of businesses that use Fin and farm for their produce. Harry proceeded to explain that he wanted to use as many local suppliers as possible.
All of his supliers have a real passion about their products. The talk between the three of us soon turns to why using the best quality ingredients makes all the difference to the taste of the food. Musing about why we were all eating as much wild garlic and asparagus as possible whist its in season in the south.
Talks of how to teach the youngest generation about the health benifits of fruit and veg began, algongside why organic...doesnt always mean organic (thats for another day). Then we started a discussion about the lack of local knowledge of our amazing producers, and the need to promote their quality, and who its a crime we dont have a proper Farmers markets weekly like in Spain and Italy. I began to feel I would never want to leave it was so interesting.
It was amazing to share such passion for embracing and understanding the amazing suppliers we have here in sunny Sussex,with both Muir and Harry, nd no doubt another coffee session and disscusion will be happening soon. We all understood why the health benefits are huge, if using our fresh well-produced food and supporting the businesses that create them.
Muir and I say our goodbyes and dash off to the car to travel to Nutborne farm, hidden away down a picturesque tiny country lane.
As we were greated by one of the owners Gary. We were briefly introduced to his lovely wife Jenny. Who was busy carefully hand-packing mountains of beautiful tomatoes, all the boxes were brimming with colour, I just wanted to cook them there and then.
Gary walked us into the first greenhouse that seemed to go on for miles. Filled to the brim with Beautifully neat lines of vines covered with 30 different types of tomatoes.
I was simply mesmerized by the size, (I do believe wow was all I could say for at least 10 seconds) so many varieties are grown here. Gary explained that they pollinate the plants by having little boxes for bees, allowing natural pollination.
As I watched the busy bees popping from one vine to the next, then back to the box, they seemed almost part of the staff, going about their important work, which I suppose they really are.
The Glasshouses are meticulously taken apart piece by piece at the end of the season to stop the risk of blite and diseases, it is this care an diligence that makes Nutbourne one of the finest tomato producers in the UK.
Gary proudly showed us some of the rarer varieties such as Pineapple Marmalade, Green beef, Tiger, and a favorite of London chefs Lemon tiger.
I was impressed with Gary's knowledge for not just the tomatoes themselves. But also the ways in which they are best cooked to retain the individual colours and flavours. I cant wait to cook some of the tips he gave me next week.
After we left the wonderful Nutbourne Nursery, we all sat and enjoyed a well-deserved ice cold water - Muir explained a bit more about what Fin and farm are about.
Nick and Muir started Fin and farm in 2009 - originally only supplying commercial kitchens with responsibly sourced local produce - they realised there was a demand for home delivery. So in 2011 they started to deliver locally. They now use over 104 individual hand picked farms, and suppliers to create wonderful fresh and vibrant boxes delivered all around Sussex.
As I have said already, Muir and her husband have a passion for finding the best we have. and what was lovely, was hearing how excitied she was when she talked about cooking with these carefully sourced ingredients. It made me hungry, hearing her descriptions of the flavours and tastes.
If like me your a convert and want to find out more about the wonderful produce Fin and farm provide and you can order a box click on their website - http://www.finandfarm.co.uk
You will not be disappointed.
After a quick refreshing drink, we were off down the road to our next stop - Rock farm.
Rock Farm is a 6-acre therapeutic community market garden project. It is a sanctuary, a community, run with over 40 part-time volunteers, and working alongside vulnerable people, to help illnesses such as depression.
As you walk in you are confronted by very noisy, happy and healthy clucking chickens, all of which were rescued.
We walked through rows of berries and made our way to the polytunnels, there was a lovely smell of herbs as we walked through.
Racheal who works at the farm showed us the array of salad leaves, edible flowers, sweet potatoes, yellow beetroot, to name just a few, its like an aladdins cave of differant vegetables all planted in what seems random orders- but is actually a clever system of Companion planting which is essentially a method of growing two or more different plants together for beneficial effects.
Rock farm, is a charity and is run with the help of One church in Brighton.
Its a special place, and the stories of the people they have helped are heart warming, they do incredible work in the 6-acre space, and they are always looking for help and volunteers so if you think you can lend a few hours or have anything they could use on the farm then contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we left Rock farm, I was so excited about creating some reciepes with the amazing produce I had seen - I cant wait for my delivery of my first box - stay tuned for some colourful healthy recipes.
And my thanks to Muir and Phoebe for taking me to see two of the wonderful farmers we have in Sussex, can't wait for the next visit.