Huntly Herbs is registered with the Soil Association as both an organic producer and organic processor. We grow organic fruit such as rhubarb, redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, damsons and blackberries outdoors at Whitestones; and also grow organic vegetbles such as tomatoes, marrows, courgettes and pumpkins in our polytunnels. We also grow a range of herbs including mint, coriander, dill, tarragon, vietnamese coriander and horseradish.
We buy in produce from other certified organic producers, and all the additional ingredients we use – such as unrefined sugar, cyder vinegar and spices – are also certified organic.
The only preserves we make which are not organic are made using wild fruit – Wild Raspberry Jam, Rowan Jelly , Hedgerow Jelly and Rowan & Apple Fruit butter – but these are still made using unrefined organic sugar.
One of our main aims in organic growing is to improve the soil we grow in rather than deplete it. We practice crop rotation so that the same crops do not grow in the same area more than once every four years. This means that pest and diseases specific to each crop are not given a chance to build up, and therefore we don’t have to use pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.
We make lots of compost every year with the fruit and vegetable peelings from the chutney kitchen, along with weeds from the garden. This compost is spread onto the vegetable beds to improve the structure and moisture-retention properties of the soil. We feed our crops using home-made comfrey and nettle brew, which gives them nutrients drawn up from the soil by those plants.
We encourage beneficial wildlife to help keep the less beneficial ones under control. A small pond next to our polytunnels means that frogs and toads now keep the slug population under control. Areas of rough grass, nettles and prunings provide shelter for various creatures from hedgehogs, ladybirds and butterflies.
Part of our organic certification with the Soil Association includes an ongoing packaging audit which aims to reduce the use of plastic and other single-use packaging.
Our preserves are all made in glass jars with metal lids, both of which can be re-used or recycled. Our gift boxes and gift packs are made of cardboard, and are recyclable.
When we send parcels out we use as much re-used and re-useable packaging as we can. Some of the cardboard boxes we use have been bought new by us, but many of them are re-used or have been bought second hand. Almost all the materials we pack our jars and plants with are being re-used, and we hope that customers will re-use them again in turn.
Our plants are sent out in re-used plastic pots, which still have plenty of life in them.
Room for improvement…
Despite all our efforts, we still have room for improvement. The jute gift bags for our preserves are biodegradable – but do have a plastic window panel in the front. We’re in the process of switching to paper-based packing tape and are using up our supplies of plastic fragile tape and documents enclosed labels. Likewise, we aim to send our plants out in biodegradeable pots, but are still using up our supply of re-used plant pots. It’s an ongoing process of improvement.