After bursting into flower and becoming a social media sensation during the summer, artisan cooking oil from Cornwall’s first-ever commercial sunflower crop has hit the shelves.
In a joint venture between farmer Nick Dymond and Jack Baines of Hard Pressed Cornwall, 16 acres of seeds were planted in the spring in a field at Trispen, near Truro.
Containing more than 275,000 sunflowers, the field became somewhat of an Instagrammer’s paradise when it opened to the public for three days in August.
With only a handful of commercial growers in the UK, producing feed for birds, the plantation was believed to be the first in the country destined solely for human consumption.
Since harvesting in September, ten tonnes of seed have been cold-pressed and bottled by Mr Baines, producing over 3,000 litres of pure, unadulterated Cornish sunflower oil which is now available at selected retailers such as the Great Cornish Food Store in Truro, A Gift From Cornwall in Falmouth and John’s Cornish Produce in St Ives.
A former chef, Mr Baines explained: “Cornwall is the perfect place to source our raw materials. Our agriculture is special and, for whatever reason, local produce just tastes better.
“With changes in climate and technological advancements in the farming industry, we have never been in a better position to challenge what can be achieved on home soil.”
He added: “Unlike mass-produced sunflower oil that you can get from the supermarket, our oil has nothing removed from it, with all of that amazing flavour retained.”
Environmentally, the sunflower crop also had numerous benefits for soil health and wildlife such as bees and bird populations.
Mr Dymond said: “Our sunflowers were grown without chemicals. Instead, we focused on plant nutrition. Livestock on the farm will eat the residue from sunflower seed pressing, which contains a very high, easily digestible source of protein.
“This reduces the need to import protein, in the form of South American soya beans, and lowers our carbon footprint.”
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