Growers & makers

Paul and Jane Badcock

Paul and Jane Badcock grow organic cauliflowers, potatoes, and spring greens for us on Rospeath Farm, close to Penzance in west Cornwall. Their mineral-rich soil and mild maritime climate mean that they can harvest some of the earliest (and tastiest!) veg of the UK season.

The Badcocks’ star crop are their cauliflowers: slow-grown florets with a crisp bite and a proper nutty flavour, unlike the softer, milder heads you often find in supermarkets.

“Caulis like wet, wild, and windy conditions,” says Paul, “and our fields here in Cornwall are generally sloping so the rain can run off. They like the land down here, which is why caulis have been grown in Cornwall for over 150 years.” “We grow them near enough like my grandfather would have grown them; he grew organically without even realising, using animal dung on the ground and growing a lot of grass in a crop rotation.”

Traditional mixed farming systems like this (combining veg crops with livestock) allow organic farmers to protect their fertile soil, a vital natural resource. In between plantings of veg, the soil can rest under a cover of grasses and clover, and be grazed by animals – all of which enriches the soil, without the need for carbon-heavy artificial fertilisers.

“The crops are hand harvested, and we also have a small herd of cows who fertilise the ground,” Paul explains. “You can’t farm organically around here without the cattle – they feed the ground, and we grow the caulis.”

“I’m looking for more farms in west Cornwall to go organic, because we’re having to turn away people looking for organic caulis, greens or new potatoes. There’s a real market there, but farmers are often set in their ways – and they’re also nervous about the two-year transition period in the certification process, when you can’t sell your crops as organic.”

“Luckily for us, Cornwall has really positive connotations; people know it from their summer holidays and have happy memories here. Organic is another great story. Put them together and there’s nothing quite like the peppery taste of a fresh organic cauliflower from Cornwall in the middle of a British winter.”

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