Honeydale Kitchen Garden & Apple Expert
Driven by a wish to help supply good quality food to local people, Christine Elliott helped to found the Kitchen Garden People, a CSA (community supported agriculture scheme) responsible for the kitchen garden at FarmED.
Christine obtained a degree from the College of Agricultural Engineering at Silsoe, which became part of Cranfield University, after which she went on to work in a planning department in Aberdeenshire, concentrating on environmental issues. After completing an MSc in transportation and traffic planning at Birmingham, she worked for many years in IT, before moving to Charlbury in 1987 to work at Oxford University.
The common thread throughout her varied career has been her focus on environmental concerns. Christine is interested in compost and soil health and was part of the Master Composter scheme run by Garden Organic. She’s the local reserve warden for BBOWT’s Blenheim Farm Nature Reserve in Charlbury, teaches people scything, is involved with the Wychwood Project and is Vice Chair of Charlbury Green Hub. Through this organisation, she was instrumental in setting up the award-winning Charlbury Sharecroppers, initially created for sharing growing space in gardens, which led to the immensely popular Big Apple Take-Aways which have run every Autumn since 2008.
‘I was saddened to see so much fruit going to waste in gardens and orchards,’ Christine explains. She picks plums and apples from a ten mile radius, to give away fortnightly in Charlbury from September through to November, and she’s learnt a lot about apples in the process. An impressive seventy varieties of apples are now included in the giveaways which attract about 200 people every other Sunday afternoon throughout the season.
It was through Charlbury Sharecroppers that Christine met Emma Harris-Bass and knew about the availability of the initial garden in Chadlington, and this led them to setting up the CSA together along with Dan Betterton whom she knew through her previous involvement with Cultivate. Now Christine particularly helps each week with the harvest and takes deliveries in her electric car to Charlbury, Leafield and Finstock. She is passionate about preparing real food and likes to teach people about fermentation, cider making and sourdough bread. And of course she’s enjoying lending her expertise to the development of the unique heritage orchard at FarmED.