A few weeks ago I was listening to The Archers on Radio 4 and my ears pricked up when one of the characters spoke about Open Farm Sunday organised by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) on June 17th. Looking on the internet, I discovered that hundreds of farms throughout the country open their doors to everyone each year, to meet the farmers who grow our food and care for the countryside.
To my delight, when checking the farms in our area, I found that Bottom Farm, the home of Farrington Oils in Hargrave, Northamptonshire was indeed open and, as I very much like to buy local food whenever possible, I thought this would be my opportunity to see where rapeseed oil is grown and bottled.
I recently blogged a little about my use of rapeseed oil in my baking, and the excellent results I had been achieving when substituting this amber liquid in place of fat-rich butter. The flavour doesn’t seem to diminish with this swap and I have followed the tip on Farrington Oils website by including in my cake recipes a little less – say 80% - of the total weight of butter required and adding a little milk, if necessary, to obtain the right consistency.
Anyway, hubby and I donned our wellies - on yet another dull and sadly rainy day - and headed off to Bottom Farm, just 10 minutes down the road. During our visit, we walked the farm tracks and observed the fields of oilseed rape whilst enjoying the knowledgeable and informative talk given to us about the growing of rapeseed, including the use of high-tech computer generated charts showing each field and the areas that may require treatment or fertilizer, as well as the high environmental standards that the farm employs. We also visited the plant where the cold-pressing of the seeds takes place, as well as the bottling area. Finally, we found a display of Farrington’s Mellow Yellow product ranges – I had no idea that there is such a variety!
If you have the chance next year to make a visit on Open Farm Sunday, I would certainly recommend it. Meanwhile, I will continue to bake and cook with this healthy alternative – I’m so pleased that it’s almost grown on my doorstep!