If your surname was Pollen, you would have to work with food and honey. So, in 2000, Richard Pollen gave up a career in marketing to devote himself to Pollen Organics. He and his wife, Christianne, have seven children, the youngest 14, and, as most had left home, Mrs Pollen wanted to put her old skills as a cordon-bleu cook to use. Work started, as it so often does, in the family kitchen, on the Aga.
Seven years later, there’s a modern production unit hidden behind a stable block façade, and two wooden barns are warehouses, with seven full-time staff. The company started by selling through farmer’s markets. ‘The first thing we needed to do is educate people how to use things such as our pesto delicious sprinkled over fish or chicken and given two final minutes in the oven. People love experimenting, and we ask them what they have done and if it works.’
He also recommends red-onion marmalade, warmed and spooned over sausages or pork chops and the chilli-and-ginger salsa, only six months old and already a bestseller with a bronze taste award. Great Taste Awards have been awarded to the Ave Maria Seville Orange Marmalade, too, and the Watercress Pesto, and six other products have Organic Food Awards. ‘We’re very proud of our pesto sauce, which is made with almonds instead of pine nuts and really good extra virgin olive oil.’
Pollen Organics products all sell for less than £5. They can be found in smart retailers such as Planet Organic, Fresh and Wild, Selfridges and Whole Foods Market, and locally at farmer’s markets throughout Hampshire. 01428 608870; www.pollenorganics.com