Monday, 7 January 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Westland Nurseries (Westlands) has got many reasons to look forward to 2013.  This includes the positive results of the investments made during October and November 2012, a revamped website and attending a number of important food service and Chef facing events.

After a successful summer during which Westlands grew more products and introduced a number of new collections, such as:

Westlands Heritage - a collection of heirloom tomatoes, which saw Westlands grow a range of UK tomatoes numbering over 30 different types.

Westlands Taste of the Sea - a collection of Sea Vegetables and flowers, from "traditional" samphire to salty fingers and okahijiki.

Westlands Inspired - a collection of more unique and unusual products including edible flowers, popcorn shoots and bronze fennel.

The Westlands investment package has enabled us to ensure a consistency in our winter range of Micro Leaf products, which has not been achieved before.  Westlands undertook a number of "product surgeries" with our Chef clients to understand the key ingredients that they needed during the busy Christmas and New Year period.

    Amaranth is one of those ingredients, in the past supplies have been patchy because during winter the plant slows down.  Westlands bucked this trend and was able to deliver a consistency not seen before, to our customer base, during the key weeks prior to Christmas and the New Year.

    As well as being invited to attend a number of prestigious events, Westlands are delighted to again be involved with some very popular TV programmes this year and contributing products to those Chefs taking part.

    We also intend on increasing the number of visits to our facilities and will be on the lookout, as ever, for interesting and innovative products to grow.  So please do let us know of any products you would like to see more of.

    For the first time Westlands will be hosting two of our own events, one in the summer "Westlands Summer Season Fete" and the other in the autumn "Westlands Harvest Festival".

    These events are about sharing and celebrating seasonal fresh produce, so please do look out for more details and your special invitation.

    Along with our continued focus on growing unique and innovative fresh produce Westlands will be revamping its website, continue with social media and look for opportunities to engage even more deeply with Chefs, the Food Service Industry and our customers.  Look out for our weekly #WoW of the Week and our #PoW of the week, as chosen by our grower team.

    We wish you all a very prosperous, healthy and Happy New Year for 2013, from all of the team at Westlands.

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    Friday, 28 December 2012

    Westlands Up Close - Winter UK Grown Amaranth

    As we wrote in our two previous blogs, Westlands Seasonal Update - Amaranth and Westlands Amaranth Update, traditionally it has been difficult to grow and manage the supply of this popular Micro Leaf during the winter months here in the UK.  Usually the season is typified by a lack of consistency in the product in the run up to Christmas and the New Year, two important times for Chefs and Caterers.

    Remember these two pictures:

    Amaranth Pic 1

    Pic 1, showing the usual size of Amaranth, and Pic 2, showing the size of Amaranth (the same amount of growing time) in winter.
    Amaranth Pic 2

    Westlands invest to improve quality and availabilities, and using the feedback we have received over the past few seasons, the team set about trying to improve the supply situation of Amaranth grown here in the UK.

    This has resulted, for the first time, in a solid and consistent supply of Westlands UK grown Amaranth over the Christmas period and now into the New Year.

    Without the feedback from Chefs, Caterers and our Distribution network we would not have been able to produce the results we have.

    In these pictures you will see the results of the additional investments we have made:

    • Additional Benches of Amaranth sown, more so than any other year.
    • New methods utilised to grow the crop.
    • Increasing the sowing area of Amaranth by adding additional bays.
    Pic 1 - Amaranth now

    Pic 1, is a close up of the Amaranth crop, as it is now.  Pic 2, shows just some of the benches and one of the Westlands Amaranth bays.

    Pic 2 - Amaranth benches

    We have other important developments happening during 2013, these will enable us to provide an increased consistency to our supplies, please do look out for our updates.

    The Team at Westlands would like to wish all of our customers and suppliers a very Happy New Year!

    Remember you can join in the conversations at our WestlandsWow Facebook page and on Twitter @WestlandsWow.

    Saturday, 15 December 2012

    Seasonal Update - 17th Dec 2012

    In order to keep you up-to-date the team at Westlands are issuing this seasonal update as an forecast of availability for the next few days.  We hope this will be helpful to you and your teams in your planning.

    Westlands Pea Shoots


    As of Monday 17th December Harvest:

      • We expect to have Supplies of the following Micro Leaf Collection:
        • Red Vein Sorrel.
        • Red Perilla.
        • Coriander.
        • Red Amaranth.
        • Celery.
        • Salad Fennel.
        • Ruby Chard.



        All products in the Westlands Micro Leaf Collection should be available as per normal, however, restrictions may apply.


            Westlands Alaskan Nasturtium Leaf

            Westlands Sea Rosemary

              If you are unsure on availabilities or any Westlands products, please do ask your usual supplier or feel free to Tweet us @WestlandsWow or @Simon_Westlands.  We are keeping our Distribution Partners informed on a continual basis of what is and isn't available.  Thank you, the Team at Westlands.

              Thursday, 29 November 2012

              Menu Planner - Seasonal Update Winter 2012-2013

              The team here at Westlands are always looking to keep our loyal customers and especially those chefs planning menus, informed about seasonal changes in our offering and how our crops are performing.

              This blog has been created to confirm the products that have now left us for the period, those being introduced and information regarding supply of a few of the more tricky lines, as we come into the Winter period.  Hopefully it will help you to plan any last minute menus and avoid any disappointment!

              Availabilities can change depending on both order patterns as well as changes in crop growing conditions.  The following information is our best forecast, and we will continue to update to ensure that we keep you informed.

              In Summary:

              Westlands Micro Leaf Collection:

              • Lemon Balm, Thyme and Tarragon - are now at the end of season, but will be available again in Spring 2013.
              • Purple Basil - is delisted for Winter, but available again in Spring 2013.
              • New for Winter 2012 is Purple/Red Radish.
              • Amaranth, Coriander, Green and Thai Basil - are generally good,  however these products do experience seasonal variations in growth patterns during the Winter months.  We will keep you updated of any short gaps that maybe seen in supply.


              Westlands Inspired Collection:

              • Butterfly Sorrel - is now finished until May 2013.
              • Buckler Sorrel - is finished, but will reappear in Spring 2013.
              • Sorrel Flowers - are now out of season until June 2013.
              • Radish Flowers and Radish Tadpoles - are now finished.
              • Lemon Verbena - difficult supply period; however we may have some available on special request.  Please do ask.


              Westlands Taste of the Sea Collection:

              • Sea Aster - is now finished until the new crop in Spring 2013.
              • Sea Beet - has started and we have good volumes.
              • Okahijiki - finished until the new crop in Spring 2013.
              • Sea Purslane and Ice Lettuce - this is a difficult supply period for both; however they may be available on special request.  Please do ask.
              If you are unsure on availabilities of any Westlands products, please do ask your usual supplier or feel free to Tweet us @WestlandsWow.

              We have also created a handy Menu Planner Guide for you to download and share with your teams.

              Tuesday, 20 November 2012

              Westlands Amaranth Update

              We are delighted, but still cautious, about how well the Westlands Amaranth crop is developing, due to the extra work we detailed in our previous blog Westlands Seasonal Update - Amaranth.

              This week we have seen the benches producing the crop at the size we expect, but in lower quantities.  Westlands have been able to send out small volumes to our supply base this week and we are expecting to do the same, in the same small quantities for most of next week.

              How can our Customers help us?

              Please only order what you actually need, as this means we only harvest what is needed and will ensure that we can keep up with your orders.  By not over ordering now, will mean more crop at the most important later stage of Christmas!

              We are expecting the volumes to increase, steadily, over the next 10 days.  Thank you so much to all of our Customers who have born with us, thank you to those who shared and Tweeted our Seasonal Update.  Using the knowledge we have gained this year will allow us to improve the position for all of our customers next year.

              Please be assured that we are working hard to ensure full supply of Westlands Amaranth for your important Christmas menu weeks, but, as ever in the wonderful world of Fresh Produce, we are not promising anything!

              Many thanks on behalf of the whole team at WestlandsWow.

              Friday, 2 November 2012

              Westlands Seasonal Update - Amaranth

              In our blog Westlands Inspired by Seasons, we spoke about the challenges that we, as growers, face in any one growing year.  Trying to predict how a crop will perform and react to the change in seasons is almost a science in itself.  What the team at Westlands are constantly trying to do is ensure a consistent quality crop for our discerning customers. 

              The growing team at Westlands love to rise to a challenge and we are at the point in the year when the Amaranth crop typically slows in its growth cycle.  The exact timing of this varies from year-to-year but it does mean that the crop doesn't perform in the consistent way it has done over the summer months, after all it loves long hot sunny days!
              • Amaranth is bright red in colour, with a mild beet flavour, and is widely used to add a splash of electric red to the plate.
              Amaranth Crop Issues

              The following are typical issues facing any grower of Amaranth and we'd like to take the time to explain what our growing team are experiencing right now:
              • Amaranth experiences seasonal variations that present more issues between the months of November and January.  One of the most difficult time periods for the Amaranth crop is going into shorter, duller days in the Autumn.
              • The Amaranth crop is taking approximately 2 weeks longer to get to "harvestable height".
              The two images below show the crop at the correct size versus the size we are getting now; there is about 2 week's growth difference, between what we were getting 3 weeks ago to now.
              Amaranth Crop at Harvestable Size
              Amaranth Crop as it is at the moment
              Westlands Solutions

              The following represents a combination of knowledge, experience and sheer determination by the Team at Westlands to use their best efforts to try and remedy this natural occurrence.

              In order to try and prevent the slowdown in growth of Amaranth and to support our supplies to you the customer, the growing team at Westlands have risen to the challenge and this is what we are actively doing to get ahead on volumes:
              • Westlands have additional benches of Amaranth sown, more than any previous season.  Westlands are also supporting the growth process by trying new methods to get crop growing.  This is the first time we have done this, but is a direct result of us trying to learn by doing something different.
              Additional Amaranth Germination in Westlands Glass House
              • Westlands have increased the sowing area for Amaranth by adding (doubling) additional bays.  This means we have more bays for growing Westlands Amaranth than we ever have in previous seasons.
              Westlands Amaranth Increase Sowing Area
              Like any new solution in fresh produce growing, particularly a naturally occurring seasonal one, it does take some time for the crop to respond.

              The team at Westlands anticipate being up to better availabilities on our Amaranth crop within a fortnight.  Hopefully, if all goes well, we will be into full supply by December but we will keep you updated with regular posts on both our Facebook and Twitter (@WestlandsWow) pages.

              Westlands Alternative Products

              Thankfully, with the skill of not only the growing and operations team but the variety and depth of our ranges we grow, Westlands are able to recommend alternative products from our collections via our knowledgeable and experience technical and marketing team.

              So, in the meantime, whilst we are experiencing a dip in yields and while we wait (patiently) for our new increased plantings of Westlands Amaranth to come on stream the following are some practical solutions for you, our customers:
              • Other "red" Westlands products from our Micro Leaf collection that can be used instead of or as a substitution for Amaranth are:
              Westlands Red Mustard Leaf
              Westlands Red Pak Choi
              Westlands Red Radish Leaf
              Westlands Red Vein Sorrel
              These four "red" alternatives are available now from your distributors and are in good supplies.  You can access our Westlands Micro Leaf flyer in a PDF format from either our website or via this link Micro Leaf Collection.

              The team at Westlands would like to thank you for your fresh produce understanding and patience whilst we await the arrival of Westlands Amaranth.

              Saturday, 15 September 2012

              Reynolds Smoked Duck & Plum Sauce Recipe

              *FEATURE* - Reynolds Foodservice Monthly

              September 2012 Recipe - Smoked Duck & Plum Sauce

              The innovative chef team at Reynolds Website have created this Seasonal recipe for Smoked Duck and Plum Sauce in their September 2012 Foodservice Monthly, page 62.

              Looking visually stunning, and containing one of our seasonal fresh produce favourites, Plums, it also includes the following Westlands Inspired UK grown products:

              • Edible Flowers types like - Nasturtium, Sorrel, Viola, Borage or Radish.
              • Nasturtium leaves.

              You can view & print the recipe via this link >> Reynolds Smoked Duck & Plum Sauce

              We would be delighted to receive posts with your pictures of your version of Reynolds Smoked Duck and Plum Sauce, please feel free to post your pictures onto our pages:

              WestlandsWow Facebook page

              @WestlandsWow Twitter page

              WestlandsWow Pinterest page