Meet the people who tend to our Tenderstem® broccoli as they explain what makes our mini trees so darn delicious.
Andrew & Caroline Green
Meet Andrew and Caroline Green—a husband and wife team to be reckoned with in the world of Tenderstem® broccoli growing. Whether it’s cultivating a million Tenderstem® broccoli plants, or delivering the earliest UK crop, they’ve been there and got the T-shirt.
“It’s not for everyone,” Caroline says. “Tenderstem® broccoli needs a lot of nurturing in the planting but also in the harvesting—you have to do it by hand. We pick it every three days or so. A day over and it’s passed its ultimate tenderness, or worse, sprouted into a yellow flower.”
With over a million Tenderstem® broccoli plants grown in 20 hectares of their land, it contributes about 20% of their business turnover. And they’re not stopping there. They have previously used their innovative and secret methods to win the accolade of delivering the first English Tenderstem® broccoli to supermarket shelves.
George Read and his brother Vernon are totally passionate about producing the best quality crops at Staples Vegetables, growing a range of crops from cauliflower to courgettes, peas to potatoes – and one of George’s favourites, Tenderstem® broccoli. Over time, they’ve taken the 350 acres they started out with and increased it to over 10,000.
They were first encouraged to try growing Tenderstem® broccoli by their customer Marks & Spencer and they’ve since had to increase their acreage to keep up with demand. George says, “There’s a demand for Tenderstem® broccoli because it’s got a better all-round flavour than traditional broccoli, beating it hands down in sweetness, which makes it a favourite among kids. And its convenience is important too. You can just take it out of the packet with no need to chop and you have a seriously healthy convenience food.”
Twenty years ago Nathan Dellicott was sitting, cold and miserable on a harvester in Lincolnshire, harvesting sprouts when he decided enough was enough, and it was time for a change. So he moved to Barfoots in West Sussex where he took a position as farm manager. One of the things he loved about his new job was an unusual crop they were growing: Tenderstem® broccoli.
There was no manual for growing it, no set way of doing things, so Nathan was happy to be involved. It wasn’t easy though. A technologist from one of the big supermarket chains came to visit and told Nathan that Tenderstem® broccoli couldn’t be grown in the UK. But it became a bit of a personal mission for Nathan to prove him wrong. He had to use all of his experience to overcome the challenges he faced, but he remembers those early days at Barfoots as a lot of fun.
And, as it happens, West Sussex, where Barfoots is located, is actually one of the best locations for growing Tenderstem® broccoli. The salt in the air is something Nathan thinks makes Tenderstem® broccolifrom Barfoots so tasty.
How Tenderstem® broccoli is grown
In this video Matt Gedney, talks about the labour of love it is to grow and harvest Tenderstem® broccoli, and food writer and stylist, Genevieve Taylor, demonstrates its incredible versatility in the kitchen.
Food that inspires
Here are our latest and greatest Tenderstem® broccoli recipes that we love right now. And, we think you’ll love them too.