Producer of the Month: Roger Saul founder of Sharpham Park
From felt to spelt. Roger Saul, the founder of British designer label Mulberry, and his wife Monty established the Sharpham Park food range, specialising in spelt, in 2004. Today the company employs nine people and produce includes spelt flours, muesli, granola biscuits, and porridge.
Sharpham Park is considered a pioneer in the production of British spelt, an ancient cousin of wheat. Roger and Monty produce their flours from a dedicated Spelt Mill on their farm. The Sauls are visionary in their farming, keen to invest in unusual and forgotten foods. They also produce walnuts, having planted around 300 walnut trees on five acres as well as 100 chestnut trees. The nuts are either sold in the farm shop or used in the Sharpham Park spelt biscuits.
- Why do you do what you do?
I love creating things. With Mulberry I created an environment where I could design and bring a product to market. With Charlton House I took the next step, which was to create a place where people could come and live in and taste the product. Now I have reached the ultimate goal of imagining the product, growing it and producing it in harmony with nature by farming a mixed economy organic farm. The challenge is to show that you can still produce a great product, but ethically and commercially. In a nutshell, I like a challenge.
- What achievement are you most proud of?
Winning the Porto Historic Grand Prix, after having gearbox problems and slipping from first to last, then working back up through the pack to win.
- What is your most memorable moment?
Making our first loaf of bread using the first spelt grain that we grew on the farm.
- If you were Prime Minister what would you do to encourage more people to eat British?
I would issue an edict that Britain must become self sufficient in food production by 2015.
- Favourite food and why?
Sorry to be so boring, but it has to be spelt. I grow it, mill it, make granola, muesli, porridge, shortbread, oatcakes, speltotto, biscuits, pearled spelt, puffed spelt and flour and I’m still not bored of it. It really is a magical grain that is also great for people who suffer from a wheat intolerance.
- What are your predictions for the future of British food?
Local will become top of the menu. Food will continue to become more important to us, from an origin, health and taste perspective. We will learn to value it more and pay more for it in relation to our current luxuries.
- If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
If you spelt it right, you can eat it
- Beat the Recession tip?
Eat seasonally. Grow your own, it really is satisfying. Enjoy our wonderful countryside. Change perceptions - think of air travel as a very special treat rather than a bus.
- What's on the menu this evening?
My monthly treat, as I try not to eat too much meat, is one of my thirty-six week old, four week hung White Park sirloin steaks. I’ll pan fry it in garlic, thyme, sea salt and black pepper and serve on a bed of pearled spelt risotto.
- How can people get hold of your products?
By visiting our beautiful Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet and popping into our shop and gardens, or from our website sharphampark.com. Sharpham Park produce is also available in Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, selected Waitrose stores and health food shops nationwide.