The Fen Peas story started in 1968, when four farmers in the Boston area formed a growers’ cooperative. Initially they grew 600 acres of peas, which were processed at Christian Salvesen’s Easton plant and supplied to JS Frozen Foods. Harvest was carried out by five trailed FMC harvesters, running twelve hours per day.
During the 1970s the acreage expanded, with the arrival of Bill Belton and Alan Lenton.
By 1986 we were farming 1,000 acres. At that point we sold all the trailed viners and bought a brand new FMC 879 self-propelled viner. All our peas still went to JS Frozen Foods at that point; partly for their own brand, Farmers’ Pride, and for retailers.
The late 80s were big years for Fen Peas. In 1988 we expanded to 1,500 acres provided by a total of eighteen growers, and started to take on land further away from Boston. We bought an FMC 679 to keep up. In 1989 our acreage expanded again, to 2,500, and Stephen Francis took over full time responsibility of the company.
The 1990s were turbulent times in the pea industry. Some groups ceased operating, and Fen Peas expanded to fill the gap – adding more growers and more customers. We emerged larger and stronger, and continued adding acres and growers throughout the 2000s.
Today, we farm over 5,000 acres from 82 growers. Some of these have been working with us for years, others are relatively new, and some were part of other pea groups, such as Rochford Tower Viners, Podded Peas, Holland Pea Growers, Deeping Peas, West Fen Peas and ASA Peas. Harvest is now carried out by two Ploeger 540-EPD harvesters manufactured in Holland and one PMC 979-CT harvester manufactured in Norfolk, UK. Our biggest customers is Greenyard Frozen Foods UK with a small tonnage going to AP East Anglia.
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