Leafing through seed catalogues, planting thousands of seedlings, finding out carrots taste better if you leave them in the ground all winter; all things you’d normally associate with a farmer, not a chef. But this is exactly what Simon Rogan, the brains behind Cumbria’s legendary L’Enclume, Rogan & Company, Fera at Claridge’s and The French in Manchester (among others) seems to love doing whenever he has the chance – ever since he set up his own farm just down the road from his two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Cartmel.
On paper, it sounds like quite a small operation. Twelve acres of land is tiny compared to a typical commercial farm. It’s only when you see how much work goes into producing ingredients that simply cannot be bought from suppliers that you realise how passionate (almost bordering on the obsessed) Simon and his team are with quality, freshness and flavour. ‘We run a very precise and tight ship,’ says Simon. ‘The techniques we use have been perfected over the last three years, and everything's run a bit like a production line. It can be quite a monotonous job at times, but we’re all very protective over the plants and treat them like our children.’
Just three years ago the farm was nothing but fields, but since then it has constantly grown to make room for more polytunnels, planting space and projects. This is certainly no kitchen garden – the latest expansion has seen a whole new area crop up towards the back, where raised beds and fertile soil are used to their full potential. There’s also an orchard which, while still young, will eventually produce apples, damsons and pears (among other things), as well as a barn used for storage, refrigeration and packing. Plans are currently in motion to build a smokehouse and possibly a meat curing room, too. There are hundreds more ideas whizzing around Simon's head – he just needs the space to make them a reality.