A walk around the farm – now in full bloom
British summertime – there’s nothing like it, and right now, just before harvest, our farm in the foothills of the Hampshire downs is looking at its very best.
Sadly we don’t yet have farmcam (but watch this space!) so instead, we went for a walk around the farm with our camera so that we could share what it’s all about at Summerdown.
Have you ever wondered how we produce the finest peppermint oil in the world?
It all starts with the rare Black mitcham peppermint seen here in one of our mint fields. We’re still about 3 weeks from harvest, but you can just see the unique purple heads coming through and the smell is unbelievable.
The story goes something like this:
- Back in 1995, our founder Sir Michael Colman travelled to America in search of Black Mitcham peppermint – a notoriously tricky herb to grow and one which had, 100 years before, been native to England
- Sir Michael decided he’d take a few cuttings back home, and have a go at cultivating them with the help of our farm manager, Ian
- After months of research, advice and a good bit of patience, they started by planting a plot the size of a tennis court. And, over time, those peppermint plants slowly started to establish themselves in the soil at Summerdown
- Every year a small, dedicated and passionate farm team looks after it, tends it and hopes for just the right amount of rain and sunshine
- In August, our forage harvester cuts the mint and it goes straight into one of our cooker tubs
- Some of the leaf is dried to make our three peppermint teas
- Whilst the rest of the mint goes to the distillery, where Master of Mint Ian begins the secret process of distillation in our on-site distillery
- The pure oil is then barrel-aged for 2 years before being used as the star ingredient in all our award-winning products, from chocolates, to teas to diffusers
Though we’re known for our peppermint, we also grow lavender and camomile essential oils on the farm, as well as oats which we supply to a well-known cereal manufacturer. The camomile goes into our award-winning Spearmint & camomile tea, whilst our lavender is distilled into our organic essential lavender oil, and sold to French perfume houses because put simply, they know English lavender is the highest quality.
Keeping Summerdown’s soil as healthy as possible is a real priority for us. We need to make sure it remains as nutrient-rich as it was the day we started farming – after all, that’s the soil our peppermint originally fell for. We’re committed to maintaining a thriving, sustainable ecosystem. Our wildflower borders for example encourage new creatures to make themselves at home around the edges of our fields and woodlands and can be seen all around the farm.