Meet our Suppliers: Sharpham Park Walnuts
We recently took a trip to the beautiful Sharpham Park, located at the edge of the stunning Somerset levels for their annual walnut harvest…
Driving through the gates of Sharpham Park, it’s easy to see that this is a place soaked in history. The 300-acre historic park dates to the year 957, where it has since been passed through the hands of the Abbots of Glastonbury for 200 years, farming the land with a number of crops, including spelt, as well as livestock and red deer.
Since then, the park has belonged to various owners throughout the decades, up until present day where it remains in the capable hands of Roger Saul.
Roger bought the park back in 2003 as a run-down dairy farm, with a mission to reintroduce responsible, regenerative organic farming to the park, and bring spelt back into the British diet. Today Sharpham Park stands as a shining example of a working organic farm (much like our own!) mainly producing spelt, as well as growing apples and - what we were particularly interested in, walnuts!
The Walnut Harvest
After a well-needed cup of coffee, with Sharpham Park’s very own spelt barista blend, and a tour of the land, we were welcomed into the walnut orchard.
Home to 300 walnut trees, heavy with the weight of ripe walnuts, the orchard was a sight to behold. Whilst you may think that walnuts are only grown in warmer climates and far-flung destinations, this is not actually the case; Somerset provides the perfect growing conditions for Sharpham Park’s walnuts.
Image: The Walnut Orchard at Sharpham Park.
Gathering around one of the trees we were keen to see the harvesting process, just how do all these walnuts get off the tree? We were soon to find out…
Hooked up to a tractor via a long rope, the tree is gently rocked back and forth to loosen the nuts, before being shook firmly so the ripe walnuts are released and fall neatly on a sheet of tarpaulin beneath the tree. The fresh yield was then weighed to find that this singular tree had produced an outstanding 37 kg of walnuts!
Washing and Drying
After harvesting, the walnuts are ready to be washed, removing the green skins they grow in and any other leaves and debris that came also off the tree. Roger talked us through this process as the walnut crop was released into a machine, which didn’t look too dissimilar to a cement mixer. We were advised to cover our ears as the walnuts started churning around, knocking against the walls of the machine and each other, removing the debris.
Image: The walnuts after being washed...
Despite now being clean, the walnuts aren’t at the end of their journey yet, still requiring to be dried to give them their distinct flavour and crunch.
We ventured into the shed which holds the walnut driers, one smaller version custom built for Roger by a race car engineer, and another larger one which had to be brought in due to the higher yield and demand for Sharpham Park walnuts.
When taking a peek into the larger machine, the scene you are greeted with is almost akin to something out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory; hundreds of walnuts being turned and dried by a rotating rod in the centre. When they’re ready, the walnuts shoot out of a pipe at the bottom of the machine and are ready to be packaged up for you to enjoy!
Following the walnut tour, we were treated to a delicious organic lunch, made using walnuts and a variety of Sharpham Park’s spelt products. The proof really was in the pudding with the taste of these walnuts, baked into gooey chocolate brownies and a delicious meringue dish served for dessert.
We let our lunch settle with an in depth discussion of organic food and farming, where Roger and his wife Monty shared the ethos behind Sharpham park, which aligned perfectly with our own; providing quality healthy organic food and farming regeneratively to feed the nation, whilst focusing on sustainability and protecting the environment.
Get Your Walnuts
Beautifully packaged, these walnuts make for the perfect gift or a great festive treat for you and the family to enjoy, and can also be incorporated into some fabulous bakes, salads, soups and other dishes.
Image: The beautifully packaged end product.
We'd like to thank Roger, Monty and the rest of the team at Sharpham Park for making our visit so wonderful and for sharing their amazing thoughts and insights into organic farming.