The Joy of English Walnuts

Food and Forest English Wlanuts

There are 120 varieties of walnuts growing in our orchards in Kent, which we care for in partnership with the national trust. These walnut trees were planted almost two decades ago as an experiment. Not all of them survived, however the few that did take advantage of the Kent soil and those trees now produce dozens of kilos of nuts each autumn. The Fernor variety in particular taste delicious, they’re almost creamy.

We enjoy getting our hands dirty behind the scenes, taking risks, nurturing and harvesting our English walnuts, and they are unique in that they have had zero treatment applied to them, not even organically permitted sprays.

Nuts in general are a wonderful food because they’re unprocessed and can be enjoyed as a healthy snack that feels indulgent and truly satisfying. Party guests love them, and they're a staple at Christmas. Beyond snacking, they are wonderful, folded into main meals and desserts as well as served as a garnish to add a nutty flavour and crunch.

Although nuts are incredible foods, at the moment, nut production is small-scale to the point of being artisanal.

London's top chefs adore walnuts for their creamy, crunchy qualities and use them in desserts and salads. French restaurants often combine hazelnuts into chocolate to create indulgent desserts, whilst chestnuts are prized for their richness and favoured by pastry chefs.

Nuts trees tend to be water hungry so it is important to grow them in a sustainable manner by  investing into farming methods that do not stress the land and inflict drought.

Growing walnuts in other regions of the world has been reported to stress the land and deplete it of nutrients, while in Britain they do well on almost any well-drained soil, so it would be great to cultivate more walnuts here. 

Our hope is that more nut production will become a sustainable farming practice in the future, with rows of trees planted between crops such as oil seeds, barley, and wheat, just as they are in France and elsewhere. Based on our experience, it is clear that trees bring nutrients from the subsoil up into the leaves, which then nourish the soil for subsequent crops. Now it's about applying this knowledge that is already out there in a professional way across the board so other farmers can benefit.