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Wakefield’s Famous Rhubarb Triangle

October 16, 2017

If you’re a Wakefield local, you’re probably familiar with what is commonly known as “The Rhubarb Triangle”. But how much do you really know about this great agricultural tradition?

The nine square mile rhubarb triangle sits between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell and has gained worldwide attention, with the likes of Martin Parr capturing photographs of the harvest. Between the months of January and March, the rhubarb, prized for its subtle flavour, is hand picked by candle light in order to ensure the stems do not harden and turn green.

Rhubarb is native to Siberia and likes the cold – which is something we’re blessed with in Yorkshire! Cuttings are taken from mature plants and then allowed to grow in fields before they are brought inside for forcing. The stems must be removed from the roots, and the work is done by hand in a highly intensive labour process.

The area stretching from Wakefield to Leeds and Bradford once produced 90% of the worlds forced rhubarb but this sadly fell into decline after the war. Technically a vegetable, but eaten as a fruit, the rhubarb was one of the few options available during rationing. As the British public were exposed to more exotic fruits brought over from abroad, the rhubarb lost its popularity and the business began to die off. Thankfully in 2010 the triangle received a protected status and has enjoyed a revival in popularity.

February brings along the Wakefield food, drink and Rhubarb festival which is a centerpiece of the forcing season.