Herbs Unlimited, which grows traditional herbs and baby salad alongside speciality herbs and edible flowers on a 92-acre farm just outside Thirsk has celebrated investing £200,000 in new equipment with an open day.
The event attracted chefs and food companies from around the UK.
The company supplies the catering, hospitality, food processing and retail sectors, employs 45 permanent staff and has a £4m turnover. Yorkshire Provender, Eat and TCS are among its many clients.
The open day was designed to celebrate the versatility of herbs and edible flowers and to inspire chefs to use them in more creative ways. Guests were given a tour of the farm and its extensive greenhouses while enjoying a taste and smell of the wide array of in-season speciality herbs, flowers and salad leaves.
Award-winning chef Stephanie Moon produced taster canapes which highlighted different ways to use the fresh speciality herbs and edible flowers grown on the farm.
The menu included parsley blinis;beetroot baked in anise hyssop beetroot gel and marigold petals; nasturtium sea trout cakes with caper mayonnaise and bean flowers; and lemon verbena flambé peaches with edible flowers. Guests finished with either sweet cicely coffee or lemon verbena tisane.
Herbs Unlimited’s managing director Alison Dodd said: “We invited chefs to see the farm for themselves and to learn more about the speciality fresh herbs and flowers grown here and their uses.
“We hope to inspire chefs to bring something new to their menus. We supply our product to many food manufacturers and the hospitality sector throughout the UK but we can also supply direct to chefs.
“Interest in fresh herbs has grown tremendously in recent years but we can’t afford to stand still. We are constantly innovating our product range and a significant investment of £200,000 in new machinery will see us increase the size of our packhouse by 2018.
“This will enable us to optimise opportunities for growth in the wholesale markets and through the increasing nationwide popularity of food boxes.
“We have also invested in a second tranche of solar panels to increase the company’s sustainability.”
Stephanie Moon said: “I’ve been working with Herbs Unlimited for a number of years but I still get excited about the sheer variety of herbs and flowers that they grow.
“The textures, colours and flavours really enhance the final dish which makes showcasing its first class produce to fellow chefs a real thrill.”