Chinn Family Asparagus
Situated in the scenic Wye Valley, Cobrey Farm benefits from a special micro-climate that enables grower John Chinn to extend the traditional asparagus season by six weeks, making M&S the first and last major retailer to sell UK grown asparagus each year.
Asparagus growing at Cobrey Farm, Wye Valley
John was first inspired to start farming asparagus after studying the strawberry industry, which had made use of innovative growing techniques to extend the traditional season over time from six weeks to six months. John felt that rather than trying to play catch-up with the strawberry growers, he would turn his knowledge and passion to a different crop: the delicious British asparagus. His pioneering work has helped us to reduce our reliance on Central and South American asparagus imports, saving an estimated 600 tonnes of CO2 a year.
"Right from the start in 2003, M&S have encouraged and supported me. More than that, they have challenged me to think outside the box!"John Chinn, M&S asparagus grower
Speaking of thinking outside the box, John is now aiming to extend the UK season further still, and by 2012 he plans to have his delicious Wye Valley asparagus in M&S stores from early March through to late October!
Over and above growing asparagus, John and his family see themselves as guardians of the small part of England they farm. They collect surplus rainfall in a reservoir to be used for summer irrigation and use composted green waste to improve the fertility of their fields. They also plant trees and hedges to establish wildlife corridors and have installed grassed waterways in their sloping fields to prevent soil erosion.
Did you know?
- An asparagus spear can grow 10 inches in 24 hours!
- Every year we trial 5 new varieties to find you the best tasting asparagus
- There are 8 million asparagus plants in the Wye Valley producing asparagus for M&S
- Asparagus is a member of the Lily family