Lincolnshire vegetables are at the heart of almost every dish we serve in our 2 Rosette Pub, the Pig & Whistle.
Steven Bennett, The Lincolnshire Chef and his 9-strong team design our menus to adapt to the ever-changing seasons and the food that’s grown and produced right here on our door step in Grimsby and Lincolnshire. Meet Graham Stark, the face behind our specialist Lincolnshire vegetables.
There’s real heart behind the vegetables produced by Graham and his family. Coven Garden, not to be mixed up with Covent Garden is set just outside of Louth in the beautiful and quiet village of Covenham. Graham started his business just over 6 years ago and has worked with Steven throughout. Coven Garden who specialise in growing Lincolnshire vegetables, specialist herbs, micro herbs and edible plants all started with the idea of providing Graham’s two sons, Ben and Sam with a job. Both autistic, Graham wanted to create an opportunity for Ben and Sam to earn a living and make use of the land they owned in Covenham. Planting and growing vegetables is a skill and test of patience, but a vocation that suited Ben and Sam perfectly. It’s methodical, it requires routine and it requires care. Whilst Ben still works on the farm growing vegetables, Sam has just completed his degree at Bishop Grosseteste university and graduated with a first!
Britain is renowned for its hit and miss weather. Whether we’re hitting 20ºc in February, off the cuff snow in March and heavy rain come August bank holiday weekend, it’s relatively unpredictable. This causes chaos for growers and producers not only across our county, but across the country and even all over the world. It’s the close relationships we have with our suppliers and constant communication to adapt dishes and menus to what’s available locally and seasonally. Dry spells of weather, frost or rain can damage a years crop over night.
At the beginning of each year, Graham sits with Steven and over numerous coffee’s (we’re yet to find out if there’s beer involved) and plans the seeding schedule for the year. This enables Steven and his team to start writing menu’s, which are then served in the Pig & Whistle. Graham, Sam & Ben grow everything from 10+ varieties of beetroot, plentiful amounts of pea shoots, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, squash amongst many, many more Lincolnshire vegetables.
Being conscious of what’s actually grown locally, and what’s available when, allows us to be more sustainable and kinder to our planet. Here at the Pig & Whistle and Healing Manor, that supply chain could not be more important. It’s knowing the faces behind our ingredients and process behind our menus, from field to fork and sea to plate that enable us to be heavily focused on sustainability. Our waste is minimal and working with companies such as Coven Garden and people like Graham, Ben and Sam allows us to ensure that our demand and pickings are only relevant to the volume of food we serve.
All photographs by Elizabeth Rose Photographer for Healing Manor Hotel.