Riverford Wicked Leeks

John & Jill Overvoorde - Delfland Nurseries

John and Jill Overvoorde Delfland Nurseries is owned and run by husband and wife team, John Overvoorde and Jill Vaughan.

“My father’s family were market gardeners for several generations and lived near Delft in Holland, hence Delfland Nurseries,” says John. “I was interested in growing from a very early age.”

Jill was born in Devizes, a market town in Wiltshire. “Many of my forebears were keen vegetable gardeners and I developed a love of freshly-picked fruit and vegetables from childhood.”

They both began their careers in farming conventionally, but the move to organic plants began in 1998 and now accounts for over one third of production on their farm near March in Cambridgeshire. The nursery, the UK’s leading commercial organic propagator, is less than 10m above sea level on the edge of a fen ‘island’ with fertile black fields to the west.

John and Jill are both keen gardeners who test all of the varieties in their vegetable plot. They also have a mini-orchard and soft fruit that is shared with the local wildlife. John grows tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and aubergines in a corner of a greenhouse. He also grows melons that he inherited from one of his Dutch grandfathers, saving the seed from the best-tasting fruit each year.

‘The great thing about running a family business is that you can put your own values into practice,” says Jill.

For the future they see the organic side of the business developing as the market expands.

"It feels good to be involved in both the supply of fresh, organic vegetables and in helping people to grow their own"