Speciality grower Herbs Unlimited threw open its doors to chefs and food companies from across the UK yesterday for its annual farm open day.
The company, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, grows herbs, salads and edible flowers on its 120-acre farm at Sand Hutton, near Thirsk, supplying the catering, hospitality, food manufacturing and wholesale sectors nationally.
Founded in 1992, Herbs Unlimited employs 65 permanent and seasonal staff and has a £5m turnover.
The open day showcased the versatility of herbs and edible flowers, demonstrating innovative ways of using them. Visitors were given a guided tour and enjoyed a specially created menu featuring the farm’s fresh herbs and flowers, devised by award-winning chef Stephanie Moon.
The menu included Apple Marigold Peach and Lemon Verbena fab lollies, Chilled borage, apple mint and cucumber soup and Slow cooked BBQ beef brisket with summer savoury slaw sour cream garlic chives and homemade pickled chillies.
Philip Dodd took over as managing director of Herbs Unlimited from his mother Alison in January. He said: “Despite other challenges within the sector, mother nature continues to have the largest impact on us as a business.
“We had a wet start to the season, but the recent dry and sunny spell means that we are almost back on schedule and we loved showing our customers around the farm.
“Brexit has brought uncertainty, but it has also renewed interest in reducing reliance on imports within the hospitality and food sectors and the sector is generally more buoyant.
“We’re a successful family-run company producing a premium speciality product based in a region blessed with a wealth of fantastic food producers.
“Consumers are increasingly health conscious and seeking new ways to introduce flavour to food. As such, we are well positioned to build on our success and meet the challenges presented not only by Brexit but by the National Living Wage and fluctuating exchange rates.
“While costs are increasing, we are working on ever innovative ways of producing our product. To extend our growing season, we’ve invested more than £65,000 in new polytunnels this year, as well as investigating new methods of preservation and flavour extraction.
“My ambition is to work more collaboratively with customers to further strengthen our relationships, anticipate and meet their needs and add real value to their offer.”