HIS family has farmed the land near Colchester since the 1850s.

Generations have trod the furrows behind horse and plough.

But Peter Fairs is not one to dwell nostalgically in the past.

While his companies do grow traditional British crops including wheat, oilseed rape and peas, they also develop specialist crops including borage, camelina, echium and quinoa – a process which takes decades of painstakingly patient work.

It is quinoa which is the new superfood.

The UN named 2013 International Quinoa Year in recognition of the crop’s high nutrient content and it is in high demand.

In these health-conscious times, it is a surefire winner.

With twice the protein content of rice or barley, quinoa is also a good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese.

In addition, it possesses good levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fibre, and it is gluten free.

But converting quinoa from its origins in South America to the English landscape has not been an easy task.

Mr Fairs said: “A professor friend of ours brought some quinoa seed back from Peru in 1985 and we tried growing it.

“The Inca Indians lived on it for centuries but all their varieties are bitter, due to a soapy, bitter seed coating which acts as a natural bird repellent.

“They have plenty of water from the Andes to wash off the soapy substance, but it is difficult to do that here because the washings are toxic to aquatic life.

“By testing individual plants we found some plants did not have such a bitter taste.”

Slowly, slowly, year after year, the seeds from the sweetest plants were taken and used to grow the next year’s crop.

The process went on for more than 25 years until a palatable quinoa had been created.

“The stuff we are growing now doesn’t need extra washing. It is almost sweet, with a delicious nutty flavour,” said Mr Fairs.

“It takes a long time but it’s exciting when you get there.”

Mr Fairs’ appetite to discover and cultivate new crops has not abated with time.

He joined his father Harold, in HJ Fairs & Son, after leaving Writtle agricultural college in 1964.

Mr Fairs has been a partner in the firm for more than 50 years and his son, Andrew, joined him in 1994 to bring new farming expertise which has helped to develop even better growing techniques for the unique range of crops now grown and processed by the company.

The company Fairking was incorporated in 1982 although the name originated a decade earlier when Francis Nicholls of John K King and Sons and Peter Fairs of H J Fairs and Son started a successful business relationship.

With agronomist Neil Boughton, Mr Fairs worked to create new superfoods and super oils – and all without resorting to the controversial genetic modification.

“As far as possible, we don’t even use pesticides,” said Mr Fairs.

“We try a whole range of crops, some are successful, some are not.

“Some may grow in this country, others not so well.

"Will it be tall enough to harvest? Will we be able to control the weeds?”

Mr Fairs continues to grow traditional British crops – wheat, oilseed rape and peas – across more than 4,000 acres of land along with increasingly diverse crops.

About 350 acres in the very English villages of Marks Tey, Great Tey and Easthorpe are used to grown quinoa and Fairking is probably now the biggest producer of the superfood in the country.

Then there is borage – also known as star flower.

Its seeds are used as an anti-inflammatory such as for arthritis and eczema treatments.

“We can’t grow enough borage,” said Mr Fairs.

“It has been in such high demand that we contract 50 other farmers across the country to grow it. The star flower oil has also been found to be a hangover cure.

"And,” he adds “and we are developing chia now, which is the next superfood.”

Its seeds are purported to reduce food cravings and lower blood pressure as well as being rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

Peter and Andrew’s success with quinoa will be the subject of a Channel 4 TV programme Eating Well with Hemsley and Hemsley, the sisters who create flavoursome meals using healthy alternatives without using grains, gluten and refined sugar.

The cameras were in Great Tey for the harvest last year but no final air date has been given.

The work, meanwhile, goes on.

At the age of 72, Mr Fairs could be excused for stepping back from farming and enjoying a bit more golf.

Not a bit of it.

His enthusiasm for what he does is thoroughly infectious and unrelenting.

“I have such a good life and enjoy it so much,” he said.

“I could not get any more enjoyment in my life.”