Meet our new Suppliers at The Stables
28 April 2021 / Meet the Creator / Food and Drink /
Ahead of the re-opening of The Stables, Head Chef, Luke Reeves has been working with new suppliers, each based in the UK and using ethical approaches to growing produce that take The Grove on it’s first step to a regenerative approach. We’ve spoken to some of our new suppliers who explain their dedication to a better way of living through the produce they grow.
Hi Abi! Please can you give us a brief overview of what Duchess Farms does?
Duchess Farms is a family-run farm which started producing rapeseed oil in 2012. I joined the team in 2017 and started growing heritage varieties of grains and make heritage grain flour. The farm has been in the family for 6 generations, it used to be a dairy farm before it started making rapeseed.
How did you get into farming?
I was doing a Phd in lab-grown meat and during this I noticed that we feed so much grain to animals and thought, why not grow more grains for people? But grow and mill them ourselves and support other farms to grow better grains and create a market for them. I didn’t have any farming experience but during my Phd I learnt a lot about the food industry and got introduced to a lot of farmers. Following this I worked on a farm in the States for 4 months and got really into the younger farming community. It was when I returned that I was introduced to Oscar, the owner of Duchess Farms, and the start of the grains side of the business went from there!
How have you moved towards regenerative farming?
Grains are a hungry plant, usually needing a lot of chemicals because it has been bred for yield rather than being resilient. Our varieties however, give a lower yield but they require no chemicals, no herbicides or pesticides. We also use the sheep to graze them at certain times of the year.
What is your company ethos?
‘Conservation through commerce’ – we recognise that for the good work we are doing to continue, it has to work as a business too, otherwise no one would want to take it on in the future.
How will you be working with Luke?
Whilst our produce is not seasonal – we produce oil and flour all year round, we will have special batches of interesting flour throughout the year so it will be fun for Luke to use these creatively and to show people that there are so many different types of flour that will make the bread or whatever you are making taste different. I’m really looking forward to seeing The Stables menu and how our oils and grains are used!
Visit Duchess Farms website to learn more.
Hi Sam! Can you give us an overview of what you do?
So Shrub started quite recently in September 2020 when myself and my business partner Harry recognised the need for small scale, ethical growers to be connected to restaurants in London. We have since created a network of 35 small scale farms around Sussex and Kent and we deliver their produce into restaurants twice a week. A majority of the produce is harvested to order.
Our aim is to connect the farmers with the chefs so we will be taking the farmers to the restaurants to go and see their produce showcased on the menus and we’ll be taking chefs to visit the farms.
Why did you start Shrub?
Harry and I met at a previous job and noticed that there is a lot of greenwashing in the industry and a lack of transparency, even though a lot of companies claim to be fully transparent. We want to provide restaurants with produce that is ethically grown here in the UK, minimising food miles. We have a passion for good produce, the difference that this produce makes to dishes is pretty incredible. We also have a love for the sense of community on the farms.
What other restaurants do you work with?
Flor in Borough Market, Native in Mayfair, Tredwells and many more!
What are the key benefits of the ethical growers that you work with?
When choosing farms to work with, our main focus is on good farming practice and agro-ecological methods, i.e. the use of crop rotations, catch crops and cover crops. The majority of the farmers we work with don’t even irrigate because the soil is so good. When the soil is of a high quality, the vegetables pulls up way more nutrients, making them much better quality.
How will you work with our Head Chef, Luke?
We always have very close working relationships with the chefs and encourage frequent dialogue – which we will of course be doing with Luke. Obviously with the British seasons you have to be pretty agile. For example, for the last 3 weeks or so we haven’t had rain which has pushed everything back a bit. So, communicating with Luke is key, advising him what ingredients are best so he can work with what we have. With the nature of the farms we work with, it requires agility and creativity from the chef.
Follow Shrub on Instagram for fresh produce photography that you’ll be seeing on The Stables menu…
Pump Street Chocolate
Tell us, what is Pump Street Chocolate all about?
We started out as a bakery and after mastering naturally-leavened bread, we ventured into making small batch chocolate from beans we import directly from single estates and cooperatives around the world. Our cacao is sourced from the best growers who ferment and dry the beans at origin. We then tailor our roasting, grinding and conching to yield the best tasting chocolate possible. By using only the highest quality ingredients along with our obsessive attention to detail in production, we always yield the most delicious chocolate.
What are you doing to be more sustainable?
From working directly with our farmers in sourcing the best beans grown with minimal intervention, to adopting plastic-free compostable packaging, we are continually trying to evolve and keep up with best practice in sustainability. We also strive to be as environmentally conscious as possible; we are now buying only plastic-free and compostable packaging.
Where can we find your chocolate on The Stables menu?
Luke has created a Pump Street chocolate fudge cake, served with English cherries and Earl Grey – we can’t wait to try it!
You can buy your own Pump Street Chocolate…