Broadchalke, a very beautiful village 10 miles west of Salisbury, is sited on a seam of chalk that runs from Exeter to London. Most British watercress farms are located on this seam as the chalk streams provide a perfect environment for growing.
The water, filtered by the chalk hills, is very pure and rich in the minerals that make watercress thrive. Chalke Valley Farm was founded by Keith’s great, great grandfather in 1880 making Keith the fifth generation of his family to grow watercress here. Keith took over from his father in 1991 and rapidly introduced mechanical harvesting, previously the watercress had been harvested by hand, back-breaking work.
Keith also changed the packaging, his watercress is no longer bunched with rubber bands but packed loose in plastic bags, a process which means less handling – so less bruising – and much longer shelf life. What hasn’t changed is the way this glorious crop is grown, Keith sticks to the traditional methods first used by his great, great grandfather and grows a unique variety first developed by his father in the 70’s. Dark green with an intense peppery flavour Chalke Valley Watercress is an absolute menu must.