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Portrait of Aspa – Asparagus Producer

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I am the Star vegetable in the spring, my tip is covered with delicate scales, I am slightly bitter and very sensitive to light … I am a white Asparagus. In this article, we will make a focus on the producer Aspa, based in the French region of Indre et Loire, well-known for the Châteaux de la Loire.

First a bit of history …

White Asparagus were French King Louis XIV’s guilty pleasure. Therefore, its gardener, implemented a system to be able to grow them during the whole year in Versailles. He is also the one that discovered the technique to keep them white. It is called “buttage” and consists in covering the growing asparagus with soil to preserve them from light. This will prevent photosynthesis and will guarantee the whiteness of the asparagus.

How it grows

One of the main advantages in farming asparagus is that it is a 10 years-old perennial crop, meaning it can be profitable for the farmer for a whole decade. First, a bulb is planted. It develops roots, buds and stems that become plants up to 2-meter high before the stem becomes a genuine asparagus underearth. The Aspa staff not only takes great care of the asparagus, it also cares for the land that spoils us with such tasty products. When a crop is over, the soil is cleaned and irrigated thanks to a dripping system to optimize the quality of the next crop. Thus, Aspa is able to assure the regularity of its products, all at the same time in the shape, the taste and in terms of tenderness.

Besides, the fact the Aspa farm has a quite human size makes it easier for the producer to follow up diligently on the crops. The brand’s commitment for quality and nature is confirmed by the Global Cap certification and by the stand taken in favor of responsible agriculture.

How Aspa makes the difference

To be in good health, asparagus need to grow in a deep, warm and rich soil. Aspa resorts to a unique production technique: a buried heating network thanks to which, production can start in mid-January. Growing in a warm environment (18 to 20 degrees Celsius) makes the asparagus even tender and prevents it from being fibrous.

After a year in the Loire riverbed sandy soil, enriched with compost and manure, asparagus can be cropped. According to Aspa’s bill of specifications, a very strict process has to be respected. Asparagus are handpicked one by one in the morning and then, they are immediately hidden from the light (otherwise they might turn to purple!). The next step is to wash them before cooling them down.

The purpose of hydro-cooling is to stop the growing journey of the asparagus and to make them ready for the cold room. Those from the high-end categories are even scaled before being packed and sent across the globe to supply both retailers and great restaurants.

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