Cornish Potatoes – yum!
In the latest ‘meet the producer’ blog, I caught up with an old pal from Cornwall Young Farmers, Ben Cavill, who works as technical manager at Pengelly Farms Ltd on behalf of the Rogers Family.
How long have you been farming at Pengelly?
The Rogers family have been farming at Pengelly Barton in West Cornwall since 1967 and is today run by father and son duo, Simon & Philip.
Phil’s son, Harry – the third generation of the Rogers family joined the team in 2020.
What do you grow / farm / produce?
The business is currently farming around 2,800 acres across Cornwall consisting of 1,400 acres of potatoes (approx. 18,000 tonnes a year!) as the primary enterprise with a further 950 acres of Maize, 220 acres of Rye and 180 acres of Sugar Beet grown to feed the farms’ Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant annually.
How did you get involved with the business?
I joined the business in 2016 as the inaugural operator of the newly built AD plant. Following 3.5 years as the plant operator, I moved into my current role as Technical Manager.
As TM, I work closely with the two directors to help monitor and streamline performance, efficiency, and reliability across the business with a particular focus on;
– Biogas & Anaerobic Digestion
– Health & Safety
– Finance & Investment
– Training & Development
– Social Media & PR
– HR & Recruitment
– Data Analysis
– Crop Protection
What’s the thing that surprises you the most about your job?
The thing that often surprises me is the amount of ‘behind the scenes’ work required to get our potatoes from field to fork. As a rural person, its easy to become slightly complacent about the journey that our food makes to get from farm to plate.
As one of the South West’s largest potato growers, we rely on a large and dedicated team of people with different skills and specialisms to ensure that the good old humble spud is planted, grown, harvested, packed and shipped to our customers in the best of conditions, every time.
What does the future look like for you?
Within my role at Pengelly Farms Ltd, I want to continue developing my knowledge and skills in the management of Health & Safety on farm.
With narrow weather windows, increasing costs and greater workloads – it’s often easy to start cutting corners to ‘get the job done’ but I want to focus on ensuring that despite all of this, the job is done safely and that everyone gets home at the end of the day.
Do you enjoy cooking?
One of my favourite things to do when not on the farm is to cook, especially with locally grown, high quality ingredients.
Given the abundance of local meats and vegetables in Cornwall, there is nothing better than preparing a hearty meal with ingredients sourced within a 15-mile radius of home.
A particular favourite of mine would be an adaption of the BBC Good Food’s Herby Potato Pesto Pasta to include Jazzy potatoes and freshly made pesto (a jar of pesto works just as well!). A quick and simple carbohydrate loaded meal, perfect after a day working on the farm.
Here is the recipe:
‘Jazzy Potato Pesto Pasta’
200g bag ‘Jazzy’ salad potatoes, halved
150g pasta shapes
100g green beans, trimmed and sliced
1 tbsp crème fraîche
For the pesto
large bunch mixed herbs (use whatever you have, such as basil, chives, dill, mint, parsley, or rocket – about 25g in total)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
½ garlic clove, crushed
zest ½ lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
25g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated, plus extra shaved, to serve
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 5-6 mins until ¾ cooked. Add the pasta and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Add the green beans 3 mins before the end.
Meanwhile, in a mini chopper or small food processor, blitz the pesto ingredients until roughly chopped.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and tip back into the pan. Toss through the pesto and crème fraîche and divide into bowls. Serve with shaved Parmesan on top.
How can people follow you or find out more?
On social media you can follow Pengelly Farms Ltd
And the business website is: https://www.pengellyfarmsltd.co.uk/
To find more about Ben, you can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn: