Waitrose & Partners plants its own truffle tree orchard in supermarket first
The Waitrose & Partners Farm on the Leckford Estate in Hampshire has planted a small truffle orchard to celebrate its 90th year of farming as part of the John Lewis Partnership.
The orchard is made up of Oak and Hazel trees that have had a summer truffle species added to their roots, enabling what is often described as ‘black gold’ – the fruit of the fungi – to grow. The trees are expected to start producing a meaningful yield of truffles in around five to seven years.
The species of truffle has been specifically chosen because of its ability to grow exceptionally well when cultivated in the UK, where there is a good variation in temperature throughout the seasons such as cold winters and hot summers. The soil on the Waitrose Leckford Farm also creates an ideal PH for the truffles to grow in.
In a few years’ time, when the truffles have taken root, the Waitrose & Partners farm will recruit a specially trained dog during the harvesting period to search out the valuable ingredient.
Andrew Hoad, Head of the Waitrose & Partners Leckford Estate, says “Truffles are one of the most sought after delicacies of the food world, so it seemed fitting to plant this orchard in honour of our 90th year of farming here in Hampshire.
“It is a long term investment for us, which could take up to 10 years to come to fruition, but as a business that has a passion for great quality food, farming and agriculture, we wanted to encompass this passion in our celebrations, and what better way than growing an ingredient as special as truffles.
“We hope by being the first supermarket to have its own truffle orchard, we will be creating something special that we are able to share with our Partners and customers long into the future.”
At the time of planting the orchard, demand for the delicacy is on the rise, as sales of oil infused with truffle are up 14% and searches for truffle oil on Waitrose.com have increased by 28% this April versus the same time last year.
Notes to editors
- The first UK-farmed truffles were harvested in 2015 by plant biologist Dr Paul Thomas in Leicestershire, but there are records dating back to the time of Queen Victoria of the UK producing truffles
- In 2019, the Waitrose & Partners Farm on the Leckford Estate celebrates its 90th year of farming as part of the John Lewis Partnership. 6,000 Jazz apple trees were planted on the farm in March, as the popularity for British fruit increases. The trees will eventually supply Waitrose & Partners shops with Jazz apples. The Leckford Estate has over 30 acres of existing fruit trees which include Bramley, Braeburn and Cox apples as well as Comice, Concorde and Conference pears, all of which are available to buy during the British season in Waitrose & Partners branches.
- The farm is also home to a herd of 550 cows, mushrooms, over 1,500 acres of wheat, barley and oats and also grows oilseed rape which is pressed and bottled on the farm to make rapeseed oil. Grapes from the vineyards grown on the estate produce the Leckford Estate Brut sparkling wine for Waitrose & Partners.
- Leckford is a LEAF demonstration farm and is committed to sustainable farming through farming practices and conservation management.
For further information please contact the Waitrose & Partners Press Office at ZPR at Waitrose@z-pr.com or 02072 875 006
Information and prices correct at time of release. Waitrose customer enquiry number is 0800 188 884.