The UK’s first commercial crop of organic lentils is set to hit retailer shelves in October thanks to Hodmedod, pioneers of British-grown pulses and grains.
Working closely with farmers across Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Sussex and Wiltshire, Hodmedod has beaten the odds of growing this notoriously difficult crop in UK soil. “We’d always wanted to grow lentils but were repeatedly told it just wasn’t possible,” says Josiah Meldrum, co-founder of Hodmedod, “then we met some inspiring German lentil farmers who told us to just plant them and see what happened.”
After witnessing the success Swedish farmers were enjoying with lentils, Hodmedod consulted the intercropping expertise of Professor Martin Wolfe and began working with him at his pioneering farm, Wakelyns Agroforestry. Recommended by Swedish farmers, the technique of intercropping helps overcome common obstacles associated with lentil production.
“We’d always wanted to grow lentils but were repeatedly told it just wasn’t possible … It turns out lentils grow well here”
Trials began in May 2015, with the planting of 3kg of Swedish seed which led to a significant harvest. “It turns out lentils grow well here. The trick is keeping them weed-free and harvesting them – skills we’ve been learning over the last few years,” says Meldrum.
The harvest is due to take place between the end of August and mid September, yielding several types of lentils including the same variety as those grown at Puy. The final product will be available to consumers from early October via independent retailers and Hodmedod’s website.