In pod we trust

BIRDS EYE VIEW: It lasts just 50 days and is run like a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion. With the ball well and truly rolling, Sarah Free­man goes be­hind the scenes of the great York­shire pea harvest.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Front Page -

HERE’S a lot of love for the hum­ble pea in the York­shire Wolds. It might be an area best known as Hock­ney coun­try for its patch­work land­scape of gen­tly rolling fields, but for less than two months a year it also be­comes the scene of what can only be de­scribed as the Great York­shire Pea Harvest. Mis­sion con­trol for this mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion is a row of unglam­orous fac­tory build­ings on a Hull in­dus­trial es­tate and it’s from there that Birds Eye’s agri­cul­tural man­ager Aimee Daw­son spends July and the bulk of Au­gust co-or­di­nat­ing five dif­fer­ent har­vest­ing gangs work­ing across 864 fields sown by 250 grow­ers.

By 10.30am one sunny Wed­nes­day morn­ing, she’s al­ready been at work for five hours – sleep, she says, waits un­til af­ter the sum­mer – and has swapped the of­fice for a farmer’s field tucked away off Driffield’s main street.

“This is where it all hap­pens,” says Aimee, who has just two and a half hours to get ev­ery sin­gle pea from the field to the freezer. “Af­ter that time, the qual­ity and the nu­tri­ents start to de­te­ri­o­rate, so even if it’s a cou­ple of sec­onds over, then they get re­jected. For­tu­nately there aren’t many batches which fail to make the grade.

“Yes, there are times when it can be a bit stress­ful, but I love it. I don’t come from a farm­ing fam­ily, but when I was grow­ing up I just knew that I wanted to be in­volved in the in­dus­try and I ended up go­ing to Bishop Bur­ton Agri­cul­tural Col­lege. That was it, I never looked back.”

Each year, there is a win­dow of around 50 days to harvest the two bil­lion por­tions of peas which will feed Bri­tain for the next 12 months and much of it is cen­tred on York­shire. As the

When I was grow­ing up I just knew that I wanted to be in­volved

in the in­dus­try.

PIC­TURES: ADRIAN BROOKS.

GREEN FOR GO: Trainee field­s­man Josh Wil­son tak­ing a look at this year’s pea harvest at one of the farms he over­sees in Driffield.

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