BWL etc.: Old Place Farm Walnuts

Our Borough Market neighbours Food and Forest sell a beautiful Walnut Oil from a local East Sussex farm, Old Place Farm Walnuts. It occurred to me that no one ever talks about what happens to the leftovers when pressing nuts and seeds for oils. But one thing is for certain, the entirety of the ingredient does not end up in the oil. So where does it go?

After discussing with husband and wife owned Old Place Farm Walnuts the possibility of upcycling their leftover Walnut-Meal, it became apparent that during the walnut oil pressing process, you can lose anywhere from 1/3 to half of the Walnut. Which, considering how water and labour intensive they are to grow and cultivate, seems an awful waste.

I sampled, we partnered, and the Walnut-Meal Snowball Cookie was born. The Walnut Oil from Old Place Farm is seasonal, so these cookies will be too. They taste utterly delicious, and not unlike raw gingerbread cookie dough, which is a win in our book.

We are so pleased to be working with Sara and Charles to be upcycling their walnut meal which would otherwise end up in landfill.  Have a little read through our virtual chat with Sara, to learn about how their walnut farm came to be.

1. Can you give us an introduction - what is Old Place Farm Walnuts about?

About fifteen years ago Charles and a friend were discussing global warming and speculating whether the climate of the Dordogne would appear in our part of south east England.  This friend was about to go to France to buy a quantity of trees for his farm and asked if we would like some too.  We planted sixty trees in about an acre of our small farm in East Sussex and the  rest is history.  In the meantime, Charles started writing his book ‘The Walnut Tree’ which was published last year.  In it he describes many aspects of this remarkable tree, from the cultivation of our trees, to the appearance of the walnut in art, history, legend, and food.  From gunstocks, jaguars to medieval wall paintings and food, the walnut is to be found everywhere.

2. Where did the idea for Old Place Farm Walnuts originally come from?

The land is our part of Sussex is poor quality and really most suitable as excellent grazing.  We had been looking at various ways of diversifying and planting walnuts has been an excellent scheme.  Charles became increasingly interested in the story of the walnut tree itself. Over the course of about ten years his, and his whole family’s, antennae were  on the look out for snippets of walnut information. The result of this was put into his book.  In the meantime our trees grew so the harvest gets busier and busier.

3. What is one thing you wish people knew about Old Place Farm Walnuts?

Every part of the tree can be used.  Also, they do not actually produce nuts but droops!

4. Describe your workplace in 3 words:

Beautiful country farm

5. What's the big dream, for Old Place Farm Walnuts?

Really to keep going on as we are.  We are flat out busy for about three months of the autumn with the harvest which leaves us time in the other nine months to do everything else!  Also we would like to publicise Charles’s excellent book, The Walnut Tree, which is really interesting on so many aspects of the walnut tree.

Every part of the tree can be used.  Also, they do not actually produce nuts but droops!

 

6. Tell us when something went horribly wrong, and what you did to bounce back?

We have  been so lucky and not much has gone horribly wrong.  We are always hoping for the right sort of wind in the spring as the trees are self-fertile and we need the breeze to set the nuts. A late frost would be a disaster but so far we have been lucky.  Also we do have to protect everything from squirrels and birds but there is a lot to go round.

7. What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My wonderful grandmother was often remarking that life was fun and she made it so.  That is a good attitude.

 

 

8. What's your favourite Winter meal?

Probably a really good roast with all the trimmings.  Alternatively a wonderful rich casserole with a few Old Place Farm pickled walnuts included in it.

9. Where would we find you on a Sunday morning?

Normally I spend quite of lot of the morning in the kitchen as Sunday is the one day of the week when i try and do a proper lunch even if, like now, there are only two of us to eat it. 

10. What's your number one food waste fighting tip?

Plan well

11. COVID-19: How was COVID-19 impacted your business - from surplus supply to social impact mission and team, to your customers and sales channels?

It has not really.  In fact, there has been more time this year to deal with the harvest and production of walnut oil as there have been so many less distractions.  Delivery has been difficult, especially with the oil as so few couriers will carry liquids and it is difficult to find reasonably priced containers which do not leak.  Much of our market tends to be in London and previously it was easy to combine a trip to town with a delivery - this year that is not so much the case.

Get in touch:
The Walnut Tree
sussexwalnuts@gmail.com