A new year, with new challenges

It’s been quite a while since I wrote my last blog post, so I’ve decided to write a New Year overview to bring every one up to date on what we got up to at the end of 2014, and what we will be doing at the start of 2015.

Firstly, 2014 was a really exciting year for us. We completed our largest harvest yet which was certainly helped by a great period of weather at the end of the season, allowing us to really get on with combining. We spent the following weeks processing the crop, to remove any debris from the grain and ensuring that it was ready to eat. The overall quality was everything we could have hoped for.

In October we were lucky enough to be invited to attend The British Farming Awards in Droitwich, as I had been nominated for the ‘Arable Innovator of the Year’ award category. The event was much bigger than ever we expected, and was certainly very well organised. We sat at a table with a young first-generation sheep farmer called Lewis Sayers, along with his family, who had been nominated for his determination to develop his own sheep flock at such a young age. The event was certainly a highlight of the year, and as the results were read out we were delighted to find I had been selected as the winner of my category! I owe a big thank you to the judges who voted for me, and to the Farmers Guardian for putting on such a great event. If you want to know a little more about the award, here’s a link you can follow.

As 2014 drew to a close, it was finished off with a trip to Brussels to meet up with our fellow quinoa growers from the continent, with whom we have a great collaboration going. Our group meets up twice a year to discuss all things to do with quinoa, from new varieties and weed control, all the way though to the optimum harvesting method. It also (of course) involves an evening out sampling the local beer and wine selection, although we’re yet to come across any quinoa based drinks!

Now in 2015, and we’ve reached my favourite part of the year… preparing for the arrival of spring! Although it is my favourite part, it is also one the busiest, with having to prepare seed for planting and fields needing to be ploughed ready for drilling. This year, I’ve really tried to focus on improving the sustainability of our quinoa by using a mustard cover crop to help reduce losses of soil nitrogen over winter and by increasing the amount of organic matter we return to the soil. Take a look at my latest video which explains what we’re trying to achieve and how such techniques can benefit the environment.

 I think a great place to sign off this post is to mention one of our latest developments. We’ve had to keep it a secret for quite a while now, but it’s such a relief to be able to finally announce the launch of the new Pret-A-Manger quinoa hot pot range, made using our British Quinoa grains! We’re delighted to have our quinoa in an even wider range of Pret’s products, and I’m sure the new hot pots will go down a treat. There are two flavours to try including pulled Korean barbeque pork and sweet potato and cauli curry, so why not pick one up and let us know what you think of it? Loads more information can be found on Pret’s website.

Thank you to everyone who has been following our story as we continue to develop quinoa as a truly British superfood, and we look forward to keeping in touch in the New Year!