Organic is everywhere these days, from farmers’ markets to the supermarket, but although it may seem like it, organic is not a new concept. Although it may feel as though organic food, clothing, and other products have only been around for a few years, it’s not a new thing by any means. In fact, before the Second World War, every crop that was grown and harvested in the UK was organic, since no chemicals were used at all. However, the war left many a scar, and the farming industry was called upon to produce more and more food for the war effort, and for afterwards when the country needed to get back on its feet. The easiest and most effective way to do that was to start using chemicals and pesticides to increase harvests and save as much of the crop as possible from rodents and insects.
Studies have shown a number of health benefits to eating organic food. Firstly, of course, there are no pesticides, antibiotics, or synthetic hormones in use (although it’s still a good idea to wash the skin of organic fruit and veg to ensure it is entirely clean) and not ingesting pesticides and hormones has to be a good idea.
Next, organic food tends to contain more healthy fats. Although these fats should still be eaten in moderation, they are actually an essential part of a well-balanced diet.
A bonus to all the great health-giving and maintaining properties of organic food is that it tastes better too, so anyone who might normally shy away from fruit and vegetables may well enjoy the taste more when it’s organic. Which means their diet will improve dramatically.
Meat and poultry can be organic too. The animals are raised using no chemicals or additives in their diet, giving quality, organic meat.
And the soil that is used to grow organic food? That benefits as well. Without being polluted by chemicals, the soil maintains its nutrient-rich components, so every time a new crop is planted, it has the same minerals and antioxidants as the crop before, rather than the soil becoming weaker and less fertile over time. The soil doesn’t need as much time to ‘recover’ after a harvest, so more crops can be planted, giving a better overall yield.
In the long run, the benefits are even more far-reaching. Buying organic means that fewer people have to come into contact with harmful chemicals because the demand for non-organic food is lessening, meaning that fewer chemicals are needed. It’s a circle of change, but it starts with buying organic and telling others about the benefits of it.
In order to become officially organic, products have to comply with a specific set of standards – once the product has been certified as organic, the producers and makers can use the EU Green Leaf symbol or the Soil Association organic symbol (in the UK, the Soil Association certifies 70 percent of all organic applications). Kent is home to plenty of organic produce and products, from apples to skincare – here are some we recommend you try.
The Rebel Farmer // Wye // www.rebelfarmer.co.uk
Ed Kyrke Smith is the eponymous ‘rebel farmer’. A tree surgeon and market gardener, Ed moved to Kent in 2016 and began to fulfil his dream of organic farming. Starting with just half an acre of pasture, the Rebel Farmer now has raised beds, polytunnels and more.
What’s really exciting about the Rebel Farmer’s approach to farming is that it is entirely off grid thanks to rainwater harvesting and solar panels. Even the soil is made on the farm using horse and cow manure and wood chippings. Everything is locally sourced and no chemicals are used whatsoever. Examples of the crops grown on this land include cucumber, beetroot, peppers, parsnips and celery.
Ripple Farm Organics // Crundale // www.ripplefarmorganics.co.uk
Certified organic by the Soil Association since 1989, Ripple Farm Organics grows many different vegetables including salad crops, herbs and soft fruit of varying types. The key to their growing is sustainability, and this is something they strive for no matter what crops have been planted or harvested.
Ripple Farm Organics operates a box scheme whereby organic vegetables and fruit are delivered to their customers’ doors on a regular basis. They also sell their produce in shops, cafes and pubs throughout Kent.
Bore Place // Chiddingstone // www.boreplace.org
The farm at Bore Place operates as a sustainable, agricultural enterprise, aiming to make best possible use of physical, financial and human resources. It also provides a valuable resource for learning and education – for visiting students, other farmers and for work experience placements. The farm converted to organic status in 2000. It is certified organic by the Soil Association. The farm covers 550 acres which supports 240 cows who produce approximately 1.5 million litres of milk per year.
The woodlands, ponds, hedges and small grassland areas at Bore Place are managed to improve their value to wildlife. This is part of a whole farm plan which allows farming and wildlife to co-exist within day to day farm management.
Just north of Bore Place House is the expanding Soil Association certified organic vegetable gardens. These provide produce that is used in the on site kitchen, for educational work with visiting schools and community groups and they also sell some produce to small, local businesses. All the gardens are managed by a small, dedicated team of staff and volunteers.
Moors Juice // Teynham // www.moorsjuice.co.uk
Moors Juice is made on Nichol Farm where a variety of apple and pear juices are created using organic methods. Moor Organic Juice is made from hand picked fruit from the farm itself, so it doesn’t get much more local than that! It’s as fresh and organic as can be.
Macknade Fine Foods // Faversham // www.macknade.com
Macknade Food Hall in Faversham has a dedicated fridge for organic foods as well as produce being offered throughout the shop in each section. Including fruit, vegetables, cereals, salads, stir-fry mixes and a varied selection from the deli. Macknade is a unique food and drink experience; it is so much more than just a food hall, café, deli, florist and event space. The business started life as a family farm back in 1847, before evolving into a PYO farm shop in 1979 and has since grown into the thriving 10,000sqft food hall that it is today. This year Macknade is celebrating 40 years of retail and has marked the occasion with a new site in Ashford opening this autumn.
Cherry Gardens Farm // Groombridge // www.cherrygardensfarm.co.uk
Situated right on the Kent/East Sussex border, Cherry Gardens Farm has a gorgeous farm shop that sells the organic produce grown on the farm as well as other excellent locally produced goods. These include organic dairy products, meat, eggs, juices, organic dried goods, ice cream, honey, jam and condiments.
There is a small café station on site too, and here you can enjoy organic and fairtrade coffees and teas as well as other treats as you gaze over the North Weald.
In the summer months Cherry Gardens Farm has a pick your own option, and gooseberries, raspberries, tayberries, blackcurrants, runner beans and cottage garden flowers are all on the PYO menu.
The Kent Dark Chocolate Company // Folkestone // www.kentdarkchocolate.co.uk
The Kent Dark Chocolate Company specialises in, unsurprisingly, dark chocolate. But this company does it in a sustainable way, using only cocoa beans that are both organic and Fairtrade. Plus, the idea behind the company is to support Kent based charities and create jobs in the Folkestone area, all the while promoting Kent across the world.
Silcocks Farm // Tenterden // www.silcocksfarm-organics.co.uk
Silcocks Farm shop has a plethora of goodies for sale. There is meat from the farm itself (including veal, lamb, hogget and pork) as well as freshly made cheese and ice cream – there is even a dedicated cheese and ice cream maker (Hannah) who works at Silcocks.
Other produce including fruit and vegetables come from nearby farms. Silcocks also stocks jams, pickles, chutneys, honey and curry mixes, together with their own range of hand-prepared pre-cooked frozen dishes such as veal and beef pies, casseroles and steak and kidney puddings.
If you want to sample some of the food before taking it home with you, enjoy a great lunch at the onsite café.
I Am Natural // www.iamnatural.co.uk
Organic isn’t just about food – skincare can be organic too, as I Am Natural proves. I Am Natural has created a range of organic skincare and natural beauty products suitable for men, women and children. Every cream, shampoo and lip balm is carefully made by hand using the finest natural and organic ingredients. I Am Natural uses a special natural preservative system that incorporates 100 percent pure essential oils. All the vegetable oils are cold pressed and sourced from suppliers certified organic by the Soil Association. Products include soap, shower gel, lip balm, deodorants, shampoo and massage oils.
The Kent Dairy Company // Goudhurst // www.kentdairycompany.co.uk
Started in March 2010, Kent Dairy Company Limited is a wholesale delivery company of high quality, farm fresh, organic milk and dairy produce covering all of Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and London South of the River Thames.
Enchanted Gardens // Whitstable // www.enchantedgardenskent.co.uk
Enchanted Gardens is an organic nursery passionate about environmental protection and bio-diversity. It is a small operation specializing entirely in bee, butterfly, moth and bat-friendly plants and habitats – and they are possibly the only horticultural company of this kind in the UK! The Enchanted Gardens are members of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation Charity, RHS Royal Horticultural Society, Bat Conservation Trust, RSPB Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The Organic Cakery // Chiddingstone // www.theorganiccakery.co.uk
Bespoke wedding cakes, vegan cakes and naked cakes at what The Organic Cakery specialises in, and everything is organic to make it all even more exciting. Each cake is designed specifically for the recipient in question, and many of the design ideas are rustic and natural. You can even order a gorgeous croquembouche, a technically challenging but stunning creation.
Nuts 4 Honey // www.nuts4honey.co.uk
Nuts 4 Honey offers raw, organic honey produced by natural and organic standards. Unpasteurized and unprocessed, this pure honey comes straight from the hives to keep its natural goodness. Nuts 4 Honey is 100 percent chemical and drug free.
Himalayan Leaf // Maidstone // www.himalayanleaf.co.uk
The coffee that Himalayan Leaf serve in their Maidstone café is brought directly from the foothills of the Himalayas, and is known to be coffee that is grown at one of the highest elevations in the world. Not only is it entirely organic, but it is unique too, making Himalayan Leaf a must-visit café when in the Maidstone area. If you really enjoy the coffee, you can buy it as a gift (for yourself or someone else), as well as organic tea and smoothies.
Artisan Bread Organic // Whitstable // www.artisanbread-abo.co.uk
Since 2001 Artisan Bread Organic has been baking award-winning organic bread. ABO even mills their own fresh flour from ancient grains like quinoa, buckwheat and rice which, by nature, do not contain any gluten. Plus they use traditional overnight fermentation rather than gums and chemicals. As if that isn’t enough, the bakery is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and they are very nearly entirely plastic free!
That Vegan Salon // Northfleet // www.thatvegansalon.co.uk
Did you know that you can enjoy organic hairdressing as well as eating organic food? At That Vegan Salon in Gravesend, only Organic Colour Systems dyes and colours are used. They are completely cruelty free, and include only the smallest amounts of chemicals – most colours are up to 95 percent natural. Yet the results are just as great as the chemical dyes that you have been used to up until now. No more bleaching, no more nasty chemicals, but you can still have the look you want.
Beard Juice Oil Co // Margate // www.beardjuice.uk
When Beard Juice opened, there were already lots of beard oils and male grooming products on the market. But that didn’t stop them. Why? Because they knew they could offer something different to the male grooming market. Most of the other oils they had come across were either made using synthetic materials and chemicals, or they were natural but were ruined with the addition of fake scents.
This, as they say, is not the Beard Juice way. All of the oils, balms and waxes that Beard Juice sells are completely natural and organic, and any scents come from blending beautiful essential oils. There are no fake smells here, and no nasty ingredients within the products they make and sell. Every batch made is low quantity and very high quality. They only make what they need, when it’s needed.