Like most smallholders we still work part-time, the holy grail of living off the land proving elusive in the current unsustainable era of cheap industrial food which hides the true costs of production.
One way of making a living is to find a specialist niche or luxury product. We ourselves may have sown the seeds for future truffles at The Secret Acre.
So we were of course interested to hear about Tear Peas, an alleged ‘green caviar’ cultivated in the Basque region of northern Spain that sells for $350 a pound. Albeit helped no doubt by being located alongside the world’s culinary capital of San Sebastian, where Michelin star restaurants abound and fantastic Pintxos bars pack the old city.
When a friend offered us some spare Tear Pea seeds this year, and biodynamic tear peas at that, we though it rude not to give them a try on the veg patch, despite our poor record to date trying to grow peas.
As usual, starting a few weeks late with our sprouting and planting out, we nonetheless were encouraged by some record beating (for us!) early establishment and growth, already looking much better our previous failed attempts with peas. Perhaps it was the extra biodynamic vigour helping finally get us on our way.
Checking in with UK’s own tear pea champion and Observer columnist, Allan Jenkins, introduced an element of doubt mid-season as our plants seemed to be struggling around the 4 foot mark, and Allan revealed he had never seen them fail to reach at least 6 foot.
However, we need not have worried, as a final spurt got them just about to the coveted 6 foot mark, perhaps revealing that although we might have final conquered our pea growing duck, we probably still have much more to learn about growing legumes.
Of course, what you really want to know is how did these ‘caviar from the ground’ actually taste?
Well, nice enough for sure, and we will definitely grow them again, but ‘green caviar’, probably not.
To be fair, they would almost certainly taste better if I was in San Sebastian with a glass of Rioja or Txakoli in hand. Pretty much everything does. And I am prepared to accept that In Spain’s Basque region the sea contributes a particular salinity to the air and soil that they probably don’t get from the winds blowing up the River Severn here at The Secret Acre.
But $350 a pound nice?
Will we sell them to you at $350 a pound?