This week is National Vegetarian Week and we are delighted to chat to Fanny Watson from The Organic Pantry in Tadcaster who supplies us with delicious fresh organic fruit and vegetables. At the moment we have sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, beetroot, Spartan apples, leeks and fabulous fresh turmeric in the shop, so do pop in and see if you can taste the difference!
1. Please could you tell us a little bit about your business?
The Watson’s have been farming at St Helens Farm, near Tadcaster, for over 100 years – Jonnie is your born farmer, up at dawn and out with the light- literally! We started The Organic Pantry 17 years ago which really makes me feel very old. With 3 small children in tow we converted the farm to organic whilst building the business, trailing round all our local farmer’s markets and county shows to establish ourselves.
We now grow over 50 different varieties of vegetable and salad crops on 300 acres of organic land. Freddie our older Son joined the business in 2015 and has brought a lot of energy and new ideas, which has helped the business to develop. We have been delighted in recent years to get involved with the Soil Association’s Food for Life Scheme and are now be supplying many schools across the North of England. It is fantastic to be getting fresh, organic veg into mouths where it’s really needed.
2. What made you decide to be organic?
Our decision to go organic was motivated by concerns that industrial farming methods were leaching our soils, damaging our health and destroying local habitats. Jonnie has always believed himself to be a custodian of the land and sees his role as protecting and preserving it for future generations. Returning to more traditional farming methods we hoped would mean the future of this patch at least was safe.
3. What is your favourite vegetable to eat and how?
My favourite vegetable is our Purple Sprouting Broccoli whereas Jonnie likes a Brussel Sprout. With all the varied produce grown here it is easy to be inspired in the kitchen. One of our favourite simple Brussel Sprouting recipes is tossed with olive oil, roasted for 20 minutes at 220° C and then mixed with a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon or two of good Yorkshire honey. I defy even the most sprout hating family member not to enjoy it!
4. What is your favourite part of Yorkshire?
My favourite part of Yorkshire is right here on the farm, it is a beautiful pocket nestled in the Wharfe Valley where I have been fortunate enough to spend all the 30 years of my married life. Farming organically has brought back many native birds to fields and I can enjoy the site of the endangered grey partridge, quail and corn buntings in abundance in our fields.