- “Summer Harvest” that was!
We recently visited the Summer Harvest site which is based on Ferneyfold Farm in Madderty.
Ferneyfold has been owned by the current Cameron generation for over 55 yrs, but the land has been owned by the older generations for over 130 years
Alison and Andrew Mackie (Fine Foods Manager) had the privilege meeting David (father in law to Mark) who is solely responsible for the farming side of the operation.
We had a double whammy as we also had the pleasure of meeting the farm dog, Taffy!!
Mark was previously an I.T. Consultant but rather than living the “city life” opted to follow his passions for food and the rural life.
As his father in law David was already growing the oilseed-rape, he decided to take this a step further and has succeeded in producing the treble filtered pressed rapeseed oil on the farm.
Not only has this become a favorite with chefs looking to source local produce he is now responsible for exporting Summer Harvest to various country around the world.
We all love the whole product range, the origin of which comes from the very versatile gold colored oil.
Whilst on the farm we were encouraged to cast our imagination back 11 months so we could be guided through the full growing process.
Starting with a seed and going on to the next step process of crop rotation which naturally prevents the soil from being drained of all its nutrients ; this in turn allows for bigger yields.
Crop rotation is essential to prevent the build-up of pests and help maintain fertility of the soil.
We then discussed new and innovative ways of reducing the carbon footprint and also viewed the new seeding machine which reduces the release of nitrogen from the ground.
It was very clear to see that not only was this a well-established farm with a wealth of experience but the owners also kept their eye on the pulse keeping up to date with modern developments in particular with a view to keeping environmental friendly practices in place.
The seeds are planted in August and left over winter by which time there is a natural change set off by the seasonal conditions, and this in turn causes it to shoot into growth.
The plants then produce flowers which are pollinated by bees which are kept on the farm by local commercial bee-keeper.
It’s a win win situation of Man and Nature working together.
After the bright yellow flower dies back the pod begins to form, and as these are left to ripen until the seeds are fully formed and good in color, it’s time to harvest. However, selecting the correct time to harvest is essential as the plants are top heavy and any period of rain/wind at this stage could topple the crop which would then be ruined.
Due to the favorable humidity on the day of our visit we had the added privilege of watching the crops being harvested. The timing of this is crucial as too much moisture means extended mechanical drying time, and minimizes the potential for any spoilage.
For optimum quality the seeds are best used within one year of harvest.
The oil is very much made to order as Mark will only start the process of extraction once orders are received. This not only avoids the need for storage space but also maximizes the quality of the product.
The extraction process is carried out by “cold pressing” ; this works by feeding the press with seeds. Although this reduces the volume of the oil it greatly improves the quality and avoids excess waste as any leftover pulp is then fed to live stock in the winter.
After the extraction the oil is filtered for impurities by processing via a triple filter system. It is then pumped through to the bottling area for the final steps in the simple process.
Why we love it?
- Dressing, Marinades (mild flavored, great flavor carrier)
- Cooking (230’c flash point)
- Colour (liquid gold)
- Good packaging (bottles looks great on tables)
- Nutrition (great source of omega 3, low in saturated fats)
- Local (made in Scotland)
Written By: Andrew Mackie (Fine Foods Manager)