He whispered, “I love peas and eat some while picking them.”
“I’ve never been in any field before. My mum usually buys it when we go shopping.”
Britain’s annual pea is harvested every year from June to August, representing the busiest part of the season for the UK pea industry – but for Lincolnshire farmers, seeing children in the fields doing work that now relies on machinery spurs nostalgia.
Eastern Seaboard has traditionally been a hotspot for growing peas in Lincolnshire, mainly due to its marine climate which, combined with the soil and growing conditions, is the ideal environment for growing quality peas.
It is home to about 700 farms and pea farms, stretching from Suffolk all the way to Dundee.
To celebrate the Great British Pea Week, our newspaper has joined forces with Yes Peas! The campaign event, which takes place alongside the British Farmers Association.
Besides two classes from Boston West Academy, we were guests of Stephen Francis, MD, Finn Pease, at one of the company’s fields in Kirton.
Fen Peas has 200 fields across the county – stretching from Friskney on the east coast to Castle Beaver and Navenby in the north of the county and Horncastle, Coningsby, Deeping and Bourne in the south.
“It’s great to see the kids in the field – we’re harvesting these days with machines,” he said, “but that’s cool.”
Stephen, a third generation in the family business, says peas were in his DNA even before he was born.
“There is a story the night before I was born — on the days when the bars were closed — my father called a local chip shop to place an order with the peas to sort,” he said.
“Twenty minutes later I was at Boston General and I was born.”
There was also a “Lion King” moment before he was taken home. “The first thing when I left the hospital I was taken to the factory and reviewed.”
Two billion peas are grown each year in Lincolnshire with the UK being 90% self-sufficient in its production.
Sewing begins in March and is one of the easiest crops to plant. “It’s environmentally friendly because it fertilizes the next crop itself,” Stephen explained.
It only takes 150 minutes from harvesting to freezing, ensuring that the freshness of the vegetables is preserved.
The harvested peas are delivered to Greenyard Frozen UK, which has two plants in Boston and King’s Lynn that freeze 45,000 tons of peas annually.
Stuart Ashton of Greenyard Frozen UK said: “Over the past 10 years tonnage has increased by 20 per cent. Production is on demand and we start planning for next year now and we can tell farmers which land to secure.
“I don’t think enough has been done to boost the effort to produce a can of peas, which is why days like this are so important.”
Coral Clark, farm representative for UK Pea Growers based in Louth, described the freezing process as “nature’s off button”.
“This means that people can enjoy the fresh taste of peas all year round.
“No wonder there is such a demand.
“They tick all the boxes – it’s not that expensive which is especially important now, nutritious,
“When it is frozen there is no waste because you only use what you need
“They are more than one side – I love sprinkling them on salad.
“Peas are an easy way to get five a day.”
Teacher Judd Brockington was one of the Boston West Academy staff members who went to the field with 28 children from the foundation stage.
As the children continued picking the fruits, she said, “They were too troublesome to come here.
“I think there is a competition to see who can choose more. From our point of view, the visit worked well with the outdoor learning.”
On average, everyone in Britain eats approximately 9,000 peas per year.
We are 90% self-sufficient in peas as a nation.
British farmers produce about 160,000 tons of frozen peas each year.
The growers and processors who produce frozen peas get most of them from field to freezer in less than 150 minutes. That’s my dedication there…
Regardless of the season, frozen peas are available year-round.
Peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, thiamine (B1), iron and phosphorous.
Peas are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber and are low in fat.
Breaded chicken, peas, goat cheese, roasted tomatoes with spaghetti
8 chicken thighs, skin on
1 large red onion, sliced
150 g tri-colored cherry tomatoes
150 gm goat cheese, cut into pieces
300gm frozen peas, thawed
Small handful of chopped parsley
Small handful of chopped basil leaves
Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
Place the chicken thighs and red onion in a large roasting pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir to coat.
Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, then add the tomatoes and garlic and leave for another 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the chicken is cooked through. Take it out of the oven and put goat cheese on it.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package and add the peas 4 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Drain well and stir with the remaining olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Place the spaghetti and peas on a warm serving platter and top with the chicken, tomatoes and goat cheese.
Sprinkle some chopped parsley and basil leaves over the pasta and serve immediately.