'Peas may we have some more' - young pickers help celebrate the great British pea

Five-year-old Lorenza gives a cheeky smile as she picks peas in a field in east Lincolnshire and puts them in a brown paper bag for her tea.

"I love peas and have been eating some while I’ve been picking," she whispers.

“I’ve never been in a field before. My mummy usually buys them when we go shopping.”

Britain’s annual pea harvest takes place each year from June to August, marking the busiest part of the season for the UK pea industry – but for growers seeing children in the fields doing a job that now depends on machines oozes nostalgia.

The Eastern Seaboard in Lincolnshire is a pea growing hotspot, mainly due to its maritime climate which, combined with the soil and planting conditions, is the perfect environment for growing superior quality peas.

It is is home to some 700 pea growers and farmers, stretching from Suffolk right up to Dundee.

Fen Peas has 200 fields across the county – stretching from Friskney on the east coast to Beaver Castle and Navenby in the north of the county, Horncastle and Coningsby, and Deeping and Bourne in the south.

"It’s so nice to see children in the field – these days we harvest using machines but this is wonderful,” said Stephen Francis, managing director of Fen Peas.

A third generation in the family business, Stephen says peas were in his DNA even before he was born.

"There’s a story that the night before my birth – in the days when pubs had lock-ins – my father phoned a local chip shop to place an order with peas to sort it out,” he said.

"Twenty minutes later I was in Boston General (hospital) being born.”

There was also the ‘Lion King’ moment before he was taken home. “The first thing when I left hospital I was taken taken to the factory and shown off.”

Every year two billion portions of peas are grown in Lincolnshire with the UK 90% self-sufficient in producing them.

Sewing begins in March and they are one of the easiest crops to grow. Stephen explained: “They are environmentally friendly because they self-fertilize the next crop.”

It takes just 150 minutes from harvest to frozen, ensuring the vegetable’s freshness is locked in.

Harvested Peas are delivered to Greenyard Frozen UK, who have two factories at Boston and King's Lynn freezing 45,000 tonnes of peas a year.

"Over the last 10 years the tonnage has increased by 20 per cent,” said Stuart Ashton of Greenyard Frozen UK. “Production is by demand and we start planning for next year now and are able to tell the farmers what land to secure.

"I don’t think enough is done to promote the effort that goes into to producing a packet of peas, so that is why days like this are so important.”

Coral Clark, Grower Representative for for UK Pea Growers based in Louth, described the freezing process as “nature’s pause button”.

"It means people can enjoy the fresh taste of peas all year round."

Source: Lincolnshire World