Welcome to the Love Your Local Larder Podcast! A podcast that celebrates local produce with the people who cook and grow it.
Blog written by Louise McKie.
Prepare for an organic food masterclass as we meet Lindsay and Ben of Grow Wild Organics in this episode of Love Your Local Larder! In their conversation with Suzie, they share their passion and extensive knowledge of all things sustainable and organic in this podcast.
Grow Wild Organics are based in Linlithgow and have been pioneering organic produce in Scotland for a quarter of a century now. What started from Lindsay’s personal desire to avoid putting chemicals into her body whilst she was pregnant, grew into a successful organic food delivery business in Edinburgh. The humble beginnings in Lindsay’s flat and a trusty van spurned development into Glasgow, West Lothian and Fife. Then to the cultivation of the truly impressive Bonnytoun Farm, where Grow Wild now cultivates 80% of the vegetables that they deliver across Scotland.
The move to Bonnytoun Farm in 2016 transformed their 'Doors Open Friday' into the Grow Wild shop, now operating four days a week. It provides a wide variety of ethical, sustainable and organic produce. The network of staff, volunteers and suppliers who make this possible are clearly at the heart of the success of Grow Wild and are described as “fabulous and vibrant”. This is just one example of the ways in which Lindsay has been fully committed to sustainability in the broadest sense from those early days in Edinburgh.
In this conversation, Suzie and Lindsay discuss the necessity of growing organically. They touch on why we might choose to eat organically: the avoidance of chemicals that have unknown health consequences is one of the most compelling, although the benefits of fuller flavours and higher nutrient contents add to this argument. Although Lindsay recognises that being ‘fully organic’ can be a challenge and recommends that we do only the best we can within our own set of circumstances.
Listen to the full episode here...
The development of Grow Wild’s product line is explored and we discover that this has been largely driven by consumer needs. This has led Lindsay to seek partners around the UK and Europe whom she trusts to share her high standards for animal welfare, environmental care and sustainability. As a result, she speaks warmly of the organic food cooperatives and ethical farms she works with to deliver the quality and breadth of produce that Grow Wild continues to offer.
The conversation delves into the practicalities of being a sustainable business in a market where competition for consumers is fierce. Lindsay talks us through her thoughts on packaging, supply networks and the all-important question of why organic food always seems to come wrapped in plastic! The importance of treating people well and paying a fair wage to everyone in the supply chain is also discussed, with reflections on how the economic climate impacts upon this. This all gives a rounded and comprehensive insight into the many facets of what it really means to be sustainable.
Suzie then speaks with farmer Ben who educates us on Regenerative Farming. He shares a simple way to understand it: “It’s giving back a little more than you take”. Bonnytoun Farm is leading the way in this method. They have moved completely away from using chemicals to control pests as this removes all the goodness in the soil and produces crops with a lower nutrient content and flavour. Instead, they have developed a system of using green manure, crop rotation and carbon fixing to ensure the soil is nutrient rich. They have also used natural hedgerows to help introduce natural predators to common plant pests such as caterpillars and aphids. Ben even tells us why we should love wasps! (Hint: they have a penchant for a specific pest!).
The results of these methods have been fantastic for the breadth of wildlife now present in and around the farm, demonstrating just how beneficial regenerative farming is for the environment as well as the production of tasty, nutritious food.
Suzie gets a chance to taste produce straight from the soil and is given a lesson in how best to pick kale and lettuce. She tries raw kohlrabi for the first time, noting how surprisingly sweet it is. Ben describes this as being like a sweet, fresh radish. Her second tasting is fresh kale, which Ben snaps from around the top of the plant. Suzie loved the peppery taste of this, but noticed another, wonderfully indescribable flavour in this organically grown kale. Finally, Ben shares a Paris Blonde lettuce, which hits the palette after a moment but is so fresh and tasty, Suzie remarks that she “wishes everyone could experience it!”
Suzie’s conversation with Grow Wild Organics is packed with knowledge, tips and considerations from one of Scotland's organic food pioneers. Lindsay’s unique interpretation of ethics and sustainability, and her application of this to the practicalities of running a business in the current climate is something that will stay with us, long after the podcast finishes. Definitely organic food for thought!
Eager to explore the world of organic delights? Discover Grow Wild's favourite beetroot recipes - they've generously shared them with us! Uncover the recipes here and dive into a culinary adventure.