Food producers Herby4 are husband and wife Rocky and Rachael, who trade in the Somerset Farmers Markets section on market days, selling herbs, apple juices and Somerset tofu! We caught up for a chat with Rocky, who told us all about the joys of using up unwanted apples and discovering how to make tofu in an apple press!
Hi Rocky! Tell us a bit about you and your business.
We both have backgrounds in recycling, but after travelling in South America we found ourselves settling in rural Somerset. We wanted a lifestyle that enabled us to work together and have equal involvement in bringing up our children. After being offered a small corner of a large field that joined our garden (with the initial idea of keeping a few chickens) we started growing culinary herbs, and found that we could sell them in local shops and at the farmers market. Gradually we diversified into making apple juice (which started when Rocky made a ‘car jack’ apple press in the back garden and we pressed some of auntie Brenda’s apples) and now we also make tofu!
Where do you get your inspiration – what motivates you to do what you do?
The apple juicing began as we realised the vast number of smaller orchards that surround us in Somerset that weren’t being harvested. Turning produce that was being wasted into something people can enjoy is a great thing to do! Making tofu came a bit later, when we turned vegan and realised there wasn’t much vegan food where we lived and that making tofu from dried soya beans is a similar process to juicing apples! So we converted our old apple press into a tofu press and we were away! We love the fact that we could make a tofu that even carnivores love!
Why did you choose to come and trade at the Frome Independent?
We heard about Frome Independent from a fellow trader. It never fails to have a great atmosphere, the music on the stage just down the hill from us is always good and we love the fact that it attracts people from far and wide, and on the whole it never rains (or at least not until after 3pm!)
What do you like about market trading – why not just sell online or through retail outlets?
There is nothing better than handing over a sample of our juice or tofu and seeing the person’s face light up as they try something new. It’s great to get positive feedback that you just don’t always get when selling via shops.
Tell us about your own favourite or best-selling product. How much work goes into creating it, why do you think this is your strongest product?
Our favourite product is our spiced apple juice called Chaider. At Christmas we sell way more of Chaider than anything else. It’s taken years to perfect the combination of spices, but you know you’ve got it right when people taste it and say ‘wow, that’s Christmas in a bottle’. We were very proud when it won the 2017 Taste of The West Champions Award for the best hot drink. Actually it’s incredibly versatile and although we produced it with the intention of it being drunk warm (a sort of non alcoholic mulled wine), it is equally good chilled. And mixes well with spirits, such as rum or brandy.
What is your favourite Frome shop, or stall to visit at The Frome Independent?
We never get to stray very far from the stand, but we always make a beeline to do swapsies with Dosa Tom.
My memory isn’t that good so it’s always the last book I have read!! (recently enjoyed Our House by Louise Candlish)
Dream day off?
We’ve managed to avoid having proper jobs for this long so every day is a really a dream day off!
Currently listening to?
Archers Omnibus or The Idles.
Cooking, eating, drinking?
Cooking and eating a slice of giant puffball foraged from the field on the way to the beach with some foraged Samphire foraged from next to Hinckley point(!!) and a slice of our apple smoked tofu. Drinking Chaider (maybe with rum).