Tucked in the New Forest, a stone’s throw from the village of Burley, Simon Weir’s Turf Croft Herbs is having its heyday of the season. It’s more of a herb day, really, as his farm is thriving with British-grown, fresh organic herbs. It’s the kind of herb garden that dreams are made of, with everything from rosemary, dill and parsley to coriander, mint and bay. It has to be one of the more aromatic farm visits in recent memory.
Turf Croft Herbs
“Let nature take its course”
With the help of some very dedicated heroes like Barclay and Amie who help run the show, Simon has grown organic herbs for nearly 30 years. Barclay who’s worked on the farm for 20 years, tells us, “Turf Croft has always been organic. Simon always said, ‘Let nature take its course.’”
Seeing the herbs growing out in the open is certainly a sight to behold (and the scent intensifies as we brush the leaves, awakening their potency). “We’re small enough and unique in that we do it all by hand. Seeding, planting, and cutting – all by hand. We’re not very modern here. Even our paperwork is just that - on paper,” Amie says with a chuckle, “I love Simon’s morals, why he’s organic. It’s a great place to work.”
Where the wild things are
If you’re no stranger to these parts, you’ll know a big part of the organic way of doing things is supporting wildlife and the environment. Even the farmhouse has solar panels and a giant tank collects rainwater for irrigation.There’s no shortage of wildlife at Turf Croft, either. “We’ve snakes like adders, a lot of deer and ponies too. High hedges are a must,” Amie explains that “Simon’s big hobby is beekeeping. He has five hives now down by the rosemary, and when it’s available he’ll bring cone honey or runny honey to the local shops or gift it to us on the farm. In case you’re wondering; I’ve not been stung in nine years of working here.”
The hot house
Under the glass (it was a particularly hot day) it’s easy to understand why a real passion for growing organic is so important. As we walk between the neat rows of organic basil, Barclay tells us, “Everyone’s trained to cut for regrowth so the crop grows back evenly and also to check the quality. I’ll pluck out all the nice green bits we can use and, if not, it goes onto compost,”
Naturally does it
Even looking after pest control is considered (and a bit ingenious). “We’ll use fly paper so they stick on when they’re heading for the herbs. Different colours attract different insects; while blue might work for one, yellow will attract another. We also use a chrysanthemum extract spray, which is completely organic. At home if you’re having trouble with pests you could use a bit of organic washing up liquid like Ecover mixed with water and that seems to do the trick” Barclay explains. “You really do taste the difference with organic, it’s so much better than what you can buy in the supermarket.”
The only way to find out is to taste them yourself. Take your home cooking up several notches with all the fresh organic herbs you can shake an organic bouquet garni at in our shop.