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.
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.
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.