The Garlic Farm and Fifteen
When Jamie Oliver's 'Fifteen' apprentices visited the Isle of Wight recently, they enjoyed a sunny afternoon at The Garlic Farm, learning about the different varieties of garlic we grow, and what we do with the finished product!
Resident garlic guru, Natasha Edwards, described the distinction between hardneck and softneck garlics, and then took the fledgling chefs on a tour of our Newchurch farm. Hailing from London, many of them were surprised to discover that garlic has no overpowering scent whilst it's growing - there is just the faintest hint of the farm's star crop as you wander through the fields. It's back in the restaurant kitchens where garlic comes into its own, and the Fifteen crew were able to sample some of the many garlic products we sell in the on-site shop (available online too!). They were also in time to take home some of our elephant garlic scapes, the delicious green stalks that are harvested all too briefly before the garlic bulbs mature.
The highly regarded Fifteen apprentice programme offers young, unemployed people, with no previous experience of the catering industry, a chance to learn the skills of the trade from expert chefs and mentors. The team also regularly visit specialist food producers, like The Garlic Farm, to see for themselves where key ingredients come from and how they are grown. They then get to put this hands-on education into practice by taking turns to cook for Jamie's flagship Fifteen restaurant. So successful is the apprenticeship that most graduates are typically in employment on completion of the year's training, and there are now 439 Fifteen alumni working throughout the catering industry.
We were delighted to welcome such enthusiastic recruits to the Garlic Farm, and hope that they gained some valuable insights and future inspiration for cooking with garlic.