What do watercress and jellyfish have in common? No, this isn’t the start of a joke. They are both composed of over 95% water. The big difference is that fresh watercress infusion has fantastic stimulating and cleansing effects on the scalp; we don’t put any jellyfish in Lush products (and never will).
In countryside Dorset – the same county that Lush is proud to call its birthplace – lies one of the biggest watercress farms in the UK. The site works alongside its sister farm located in Hampshire to supply the majority of the UK demand for the nutrient-rich plant. In the coldest winter months, a sister site in Spain maintains the supply.
Watercress is packed full of vitamins and minerals including calcium, vitamin c, foliate, zinc, magnesium and iron. Like many of Lush’s fresh ingredients, this makes it popular on dinner plates, as well as in our products. The farm is therefore well practiced at regularly packing several tonnes of newly harvested watercress each day to be sent off to major supermarkets (and some for us). We then use it to create our fresh watercress infusion by placing the plant in hot, boiling water, filtering and adding it straight into our products.
Their stems may look fragile and flimsy, but in fact watercress are impressively strong and largely self-sufficient. They’re also wanderers at heart. After being spread onto empty beds they will often spread their own roots and make new homes in puddles and irrigation pens outside of their intended allocations.
Two discrete root systems make up the plant. The first anchors the plant safely to a simple gravel bed, which helps avoid the build-up of pests or diseases that can proliferate in soil bases. The second set of roots float in the water to absorb the maximum possible available nutrients.
This brilliant root system makes it possible to efficiently harvest the plants mechanically. A lightweight tractor on caterpillar tracks gently rolls over the area, scooping and cutting the plant in columns to maximise the leafy bouquet.
The watercress beds in Dorset are sited close to a natural spring, which sends millions of tonnes of fresh water flowing through strategic channels to satiate each plant and allow it to blossom in the gentle current.
Notable wildlife has also been recorded surrounding the farm, a really positive indicator that the water supply is well oxygenated and healthy for the plants.
This watercress contributes to the South-West England success story of H’Suan Wen Hua hair moisturiser, alongside brilliant ingredients such as our Cornish bay leaf infusion and Organic Free Range eggs from fifty miles north of Poole. This locally sourced lineup is a clear winner.