Parrish Farm is in mid Bedfordshire and grows shallots in a rotation with onions, potatoes cereals and sunflowers.
Growing shallots is a year round operation. From spring sowing, as soon as the soil temperature is warm enough for germination, through to summer ripening and autumn harvest in Sept. The bulbs then go onto be stored. Shallots have extraordinary storing qualities.
A little-known fact about shallots is that they breathe. Part of what makes Parrish Farm special is that they use technology to slow down the breathing process to help the shallots store for longer periods. This means we can now all have UK-grown shallots all year. The team studied the technology in the USA, and brought the knowledge back to make Parrish Farm the first farm in the UK to store alliums in “controlled atmospheres”. The innovative technology doesn't stop there. Self-steering tractors are used to plant the seeds, and they're controlled using GPS.
The team is keen to see wildlife thrive and Parrish Farms has created long strips, known as “wildlife corridors” connecting two or more otherwise isolated patches of habitat. They allow animals to travel safely from one area to another, but may also provide food or other necessities as well. There are also areas of wetlands on the farm which is home to many rare species. Wetlands prevent flooding by holding water like a sponge. They accept water during storms and whenever water levels are high. When water levels are low, wetlands slowly release water. Many animals that live in other habitats use wetlands. For example, herons nest in large old trees, but need shallow areas in order to wade for fish and aquatic life. Amphibians often forage in upland areas but return to the water to mate and reproduce. Unlike most other habitats, wetlands directly improve other ecosystems.
Parrish Farm has also created a 40 million gallon reservoir to help irrigate the farm and this is attracting migrating birds. “Shallots definitely keep us on our toes” says James Parrish. “Growing a high quality product at the right price while also taking care of the environment means that there’s never a dull moment. There’s always a new challenge around the corner – for example we’re noticing greater extremes in the weather – be it longer drought or extended wet periods. So it’s demanding but satisfying.” Once upon a time, shallots were the preserve of chefs, today they are a store cupboard staple. With year on year increase in demand, it’s just as well that innovative strides are being taken so that we can eat environmentally friendly, home grown shallots.
For further information contact Pam Lloyd PR on 0117 924 7220, email firstname.lastname@example.org