Jake’s blue and black tomatoes promise exotic salad days at Eden this summer
Highly exotic salads await visitors to the Eden Project this summer thanks to a new growing programme led by a former apprentice turned superfood grower.
Black, blue and orange tomatoes, cucamelons, tomatillos (also sometimes known as the Mexican husk tomato) and inca berries are among the strange and wonderful produce nurtured by 21-year-old Jake Hawke, now ready for the tables at the home of the famous Biomes in Cornwall.
Six months ago Jake started his new job growing produce for the restaurants immediately after finishing his two year horticultural apprenticeship, a programme he started with no prior gardening knowledge.
Jake works closely with Eden’s chef team, led by Head Chef Tony Trenerry, on the crops he will grow. Tony and his team are currently developing dishes using Jake’s ingredients which will be sold in Eden’s restaurants.
He is growing 12 varieties of tomato, four peppers, four courgettes, two cucumbers and many more.
Jake grows all of his produce at Eden’s Watering Lane Nursery, near Pentewan, under the supervision of nursery manager Tim Grigg and it all goes straight to the Eden restaurants. His ambition is to supply two tonnes of produce this year, double what was supplied by the nursery last year.
Jake, who left school with no qualifications and learned building and mechanical engineering before joining Eden for his horticultural apprenticeship, said: “Our chefs love the food that comes from the nursery so I’m really pleased to able to supply more to them.
“It’s great to be able to reduce our food miles while introducing our visitors to unusual, heirloom varieties that are absolutely packed with flavour.”
Tony Trenerry said: “Our visitors love it when we tell them that their food has been grown by Eden gardeners just down the road, so I’m really pleased we will be increasing the number of home-grown dishes on our menus.
“The team and I really enjoy working with Jake on choosing the ideal varieties for the dishes we want to cook and we look forward to serving up an exciting and delicious menu this summer.”
Jake’s work is part of an overall Eden commitment to celebrating and conserving the extraordinary diversity of plants that feed society.