Standing in a repurposed shipping container on the edge of the Cotswolds, the last thing you should expect to feel is cosy, so cosy in fact, that we’re almost ready to bed down amongst the microgreens lining the container’s sides. Whilst unusual, it’s not entirely unexpected, as we’re at Truleaf Farm, an operation that is – in many ways – out of the ordinary. Entering one of Truleaf’s containers is like stepping into an incubator, and indeed their microgreens garden flourishes in brilliant greens and purples in the safety and warmth of their eco-friendly environment.

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It’s in this calm that we chatted with Chris Cullen the co-Founder of Truleaf about their – still fairly fledgling – operation. The first thing you see when drawing up to Truleaf Farm is the bio-gas plant that wholly powers their growing operation. Chris tells us, “Right from the outset, for us it was about creating something sustainable, healthy, with as minimal environmental impact as possible. That process and ethos starts from the very beginning and runs right through to the very end.”

The starting point for this is of course, their own renewable energy source, but this follows through to the growing process – all completed by hand – and into their plastic-free, plant-based packaging. Chris continues, “For us it’s a journey; we don’t say that we have all the answers in how to do sustainable farming, but we do try to do the best we can to create a proposition that is as healthy and sustainable and as tasty as possible.”

This ethos is also present in their commitment to local supply. Chris tells us, “We’ve got a good deal of customers that are local and they like buying from us because we’re local to them. But then what we try to do as much as possible is to use established distribution networks to get out to our customers.”

At Truleaf, minimising environmental impact and the quality of the finished article go hand-in-hand; asked what their personal marker of good quality is, it’s clear that the two are closely entwined: “Taste is an absolute. As important as that is producing something that is as ethical as possible; something that you can consume and enjoy that is created in such a way that it has as little negative impact and as many positive benefits as possible on the environment and our health.” And these microgreens are tasty indeed!

As we walk amongst the trays of seedlings, Chris breaks off delicious little pea shoots, beetroot-flavoured amaranth and surprisingly robust sunflower ‘noodle’ shoots for us to try. It’s these that make up Chris’ star dish, as he tells us, “My favourite out of everything is getting a fistful of sunflower shoots, throwing them in the wok with a little bit of butter and garlic and salt and stir frying them for about 20 seconds. That, without doubt, is my favourite – it’s so simple, easy, healthy and tasty to do.” And, having taken some of their ‘sunflower noodles’ away with us, we can testify to that!

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