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Newest member grows white carrots

Date: 26/01/2007 | Posted by John Garton
THE latest member of the Genuine Jersey Products Association is a traditional farmer with an unusual crop. The association, which promotes its members and their goods, has approved the application of St Ouen farmer Peter Houguez for his white carrots.

Peter owns Goodlands Farm on La Route du Marais (Hydrangea Avenue). His appointment by the Genuine Jersey management committee brings the total membership to 85.

Peter has been growing the white carrots on the family farm for more than 20 years and he believes his is the only farm in Jersey that produces the crop. Peter explains the purpose of the white variety in farming: “Cows really like the taste of carrots, but red carrots aren’t suitable for dairy cattle because they turn the milk pink. You have to be careful what you feed cattle – turnips are no good because they make the milk taste bitter, for example.”

However, finding supplies of the white carrot seed did not prove easy. Peter continues: “We always used to get the seed from England because there wasn’t any to be found in Jersey. But for three or four years we couldn’t buy seed from England either. Then, a friend of the family went to France and found some there. We drilled a few rows and when the carrots came up the cows loved them. They seem to love smell of the leaves.”

This rediscovery of the white variety occurred about 20 years ago and since then the Houguez’s unusual carrots have remained a St Ouen secret. That was until Blue Badge guide Remi Couriard asked Peter if he could bring one his walking groups to the farm one day.

“Remi knew that the farm is the last dairy herd in the parish and wanted to tell his group about my grandfather starting the business many years ago. My father begun keeping cows towards the end of the war in 1944 and the cows have been a feature of the farm ever since. Today we’ve got nine.”

But Remi was also interested to discover the white carrots which Peter sows every year after the potato crop has been harvested. “With Remi’s encouragement, last year we grew just over half a vergée and began selling them for human consumption too. The response has been good, so this year I’ll sow at least a vergée.”

Until the next crop is ready in late autumn, however, the latest Genuine Jersey product will be in very limited supply. For the next few weeks only, speedy shoppers can buy Peter’s white carrots from fellow Genuine Jersey members Darren and Julia Quénault at the Classic Herd shop at Manor Farm, St Peter.

Genuine Jersey chairman Ken Syvret said: “We are delighted to welcome such an unusual product to the Genuine Jersey fold. Peter Houguez’s aims clearly fit so closely with our own – he uses traditional, sustainable farming methods to ensure his cattle are nourished with food that is grown on his own farm. However, this product is also of interest to the Island as a whole. Peter’s white carrots take the novelty and ingenuity of the Genuine Jersey spirit to the people of the Island, not just to those in the farming community but to people from all backgrounds.”