A day at the farm with the DLWP Kitchen team
Head Chef Ryan and Junior Sous Chef Kundai’s summer salad bar is going down a treat with our visitors. They set off to explore the source of DLWP Cafe Bar & Kitchen’s fresh ingredients.
“With the launch of our salad bar recently, we thought it would be a great opportunity to go and see where some of our fruit and vegetable products are coming from.
We work closely with our greengrocer, Jay Carroll, who runs Carrolls greengrocers in Sidley. It’s a family run business and the trade can be traced back in the family for well over 100 years. So on Monday, Jay took Kundai, and myself out to a couple of the local farms where our products are being harvested.
We started out by visiting Lidija at Very Berry Farm in Ninfield. Lidija, with a fashion background including working for Alexander McQueen, was not what I was expecting from a lady who has owned a farm for eight years ! It goes without saying from the name of her farm that Lidija’s harvest is mainly berries with about 50kgs of berries a week sol . Jay takes a stock of her berries up to Covent Garden Market when he travels up there, which means there isn’t an extra journey’s carbon footprint.
Lidija has a natural spring on the farm which flows through and supplies her with the water she needs, as well as saving her a pretty hefty water bill. What I found the most remarkable about the farm is the fact that she uses absolutely no pesticides whatsoever. She has found ways around them by using natural alternatives like seaweed and, even more interestingly, wasps! She brought a shipment of wasps in years ago that are now basically part of the farm family. They have settled in and are keeping the pests at bay so that no chemicals are needed.
We went on to the Greenway Fruit Farm in Herstmonceux and met the instantly likeable Graham, who runs the farm there and a man who is clearly very passionate about his trade and has lots of character. The farm has been in his family since 1951 and, from what he was saying, he has been working on it since not long after he was born! Graham introduced allotments for the village around ten years ago which seem to be thriving and a great example of local people working together. In a similar way to Lidija’s berry farm, there is a lake on the farm from which the water is used for irrigating the crops.
Asparagus has played a big part on our menu in recent weeks during its peak season and it has all come from this farm. The asparagus season is ending now but the apples, pears, plums and apricots are coming on beautifully. I have no doubt they will be introduced to our menu as the summer rolls into the autumn.
Kundai and myself found it very eye opening to visit the ground where our fruit and vegetables are being picked and pulled. As chefs, we thrive on inspiration and there was plenty of that today. In current times, with more and more people interested in vegetable and plant based diets, it is an exciting challenge for us in the kitchen to keep coming up with ideas to suit everyone’s needs. Our salad bar which runs from Friday to Monday is a great way to show you what inspires us.”
Meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan options are freshly made and available at the DLWP salad bar from 12 noon – 3pm, Friday to Monday. Come in to give it a taste or browse our summer lunch menu here.
Posted by Caspar Jayasekera on Thursday 15 August 2019