Watercress is a cruciferous plant grown for centuries as a mineral rich, green leafy vegetable.
Since the first British watercress farm was established in 1808 by William Bradbury in Kent, farmers have been sustainably nurturing this nutrient-packed vegetable, avoiding the use of pesticides where possible, to ensure it is grown simply and harmoniously within its natural environment.
Grown now predominantly in Dorset and Hampshire, watercress is cultivated in shallow gravel beds immersed in chalk-filtered spring water running gently through the plants. It is from this mineral-rich water that this leaf gains its best nutrients, absorbing goodness using its roots deeply embedded in the gravel – this is why it is essential to keep its water flow as pure as possible.
During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, watercress was held in very high regard, with the turn of the century only increasing its importance in the British diet. Throughout the two world wars, watercress was seen as an essential vegetable as a deprived population was forced to turn to home-grown alternatives to supplement a nutritionally poor diet. It was perhaps this dependency on watercress that caused a change in attitude towards this leafy green.
With the increasing trends in healthy eating and superfoods, along with campaigns such as Wild for Watercress promoting positive consumption of British Watercress, it has returned to being a superfood staple in home and commercial kitchens up and down the country, becoming an essential ingredient for a healthy, balanced diet once again.