Producer of the Month - Chris Molyneux - Molyneux Kale
The Molyneux family has farmed in South West Lancashire for more than 5 generations, but Molyneux Kale was only set up in 2013 when the family farm ceased trading and Chris Molyneux decided to set up on his own.
Molyneux Kale is focused on growing a wide range of Kales, from Green Kale through to other varieties that can now be grown in the UK (Portugese Tronchuda, white and red kales). They also grow Spring Cabbage, Swiss Chard, and have just launched Minestra Nera, and Spigarello. These Italian brassicas are leafy like kale but with a stem like sprouting broccoli.
Next year they are aiming to launch some Chicories following a successful trial this year with Puntarelle, and Tardivo chicories (traditional Italian varieties).
Molyneux Kale are unusual and have developed their own varieties of Spring Cabbage and Kale. The family have maintained a Spring Cabbage variety, Scarisbrick Star, for generations and have now developed their own unique Kale variety MK Spring Star. This variety together with the SW Lancs climate, and their growing know-how allows them to supply UK grown Kale for the full 12 months of the year, including March to June when other suppliers are importing from Spain.
The family are now working hard to improve the sustainability of kale growing, using extended leys, and short term cover crops to improve soil fertility, and also looking to improve the quality of the marl pits which are a feature of the fields in SW Lancs.
We caught up with Chris Molyneux to learn more.
We asked the family a few questions about what they do:
Why do you do what you do?
I love growing crops, and always have. Molyneux Kale Company allows me to do that.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Growing new and different crops. This year we have started selling Portugese Tronchuda Kale, and Minestra Nera and Spigarello (Italian mini-kale shoots). Next year we hope to launch UK Puntarelle and Tardivo (types of chicory currently imported from Italy).
What do you least enjoy about your job?
Being out in the worst of the weather during the winter. It isn't so much the cold as the wet, wind and mud in our part of the world.
What achievements are you most proud of?
Developing our own Kale variety MK Spring Star, and getting Plant Breeders Rights for it.
Why Should we buy British produce?
Because it tastes great, and is good quality. For vegetables it has to be better to grown, and eat the produce from our location than to import from half way across the world. Fresh produce is definitely best, and tastes so much better than 4 or 5 day old.
How do you think we should be promoting British?
Continue the good work, showcasing products in season grown in the UK, and pushing the freshness and quality.
If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
Fresh is Best - Buy British
What's on the menu this evening?
It is a toss up between a winter coleslaw using sweet Tronchuda Kale, or braised Tardivo Chicory. I like using the new product we are growing and seeing how they work in different recipes.
How can people get hold of your produce?
We are widely available from wholesale markets across the UK. Just ask your supplier of vegetables and they will be able to access our products from there.
Facebook page: @molyneuxkale
Twitter: @molyneuxkale @kalegrower