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Interview: Laurel Farm Herbs

To be perfectly honest I’ve never quite had the knack for growing my own garden herbs. I’ve frequently purchased grow-your-own pots with grand allusions of seasoning dishes straight from the garden or showing off my ‘culinary prowess’ with a little homemade pesto. Yet time and again my basil plants wilt away and my prized chives sit on the windowsill looking decidedly sorry for themselves. So you can imagine my relief when I discovered Laurel Farm Herbs and realised that fresh, high quality herbs were just a click away!

Laurel Farm Herbs & Edibles grow hundreds of herbs and edible flowers from seed on site in Whiddon Down, West Devon. You’ll find them selling their edibles at farmers markets, food festivals and plant fairs nationwide and they even offer a unique mail order service that delivers fresh, high quality herbs straight to your door. As well as been expert growers, owners Chris and Jenny Seagon are incredibly passionate about their craft and they’re keen to spread the word about how fun and rewarding cooking with herbs can be…

When did you start Laurel Farm?

Laurel Farm Herbs started on 1st April 1985 at Kelsale Nr Saxmundham in Suffolk with a total of 19 different varieties of herbs. We moved to Devon in August 2013 and we commenced building on the new site the following month.

Have you always been green-fingered?  
Yes. I’ve been green-fingered ever since I succeeded in germinating some conifer seedlings when I was very small.

For garden novices, what is the easiest herb to try growing at home?
Rosemary, chives and mint are all easy to grow, they just need the right position and soil. Most herbs need full sun and well drained soil and if they are grown in a pot you must remember to feed them.

What would you say is the most versatile herb?
Thyme is one of the most versatile, with many different flavours, and also mint. Both can be used in a variety of ways and with many different ingredients.

Laurel Farm Herbs

Credit: Laurel Farm Herbs

Do you have any tips for preserving herbs for cooking?  
Most herbs can be preserved by drying them or alternatively you can freeze them. Also you can also infuse them in oil to create different flavoured oils for cooking (try rosemary, cumin, coriander or thyme).

In recent years have you noticed a rise in the demand for edible flowers and more exotic products?
There has definitely been a rise in demand for edible flowers and more exotic edibles. We are always on the lookout for different things to grow and to tempt cooks and chefs into trying something new. Our motto is “If you can eat it, we want to grow it.” We like to find out what people’s gardens are missing and grow accordingly.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?
I love having children coming to the stand and trying different herbs and flavours. It’s great to see the getting them enthusiastic about plants.

What about your least favourite?  
The high winds! We are on the edge of Dartmoor and the winds can be scary. Indeed, some people at markets have said to us “what on earth did you move there for?”

Lastly, if you could only choose one herb to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?
It would have to be thymes. They are so versatile and have so many different flavours, colours and shapes of leaves.

Laurel Farm Herbs

Credit: Laurel Farm Herbs

Laurel Farm Herbs and Edibles is located at the highest point of the A30 at Whiddon Down just 7 miles from Okehampton and 22 miles from Exeter. For more information, or to buy herbs online visit: laurelfarmherbs.co.uk

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