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Field Notes - News from the Farm

18th March - 24th March

Welcome back to Field Notes. Each week we will be bringing you news from FarmED: from what’s happening in the fields and hedgerows, to updates from the farm to fork Café and the conference barn: a space where people from all walks of life meet to find out more about regenerative agriculture. Come with us on a one-of-a-kind journey as we ride the natural highs and lows of farming life.

Field Record: What's been happening on the 107 acres of Honeydale Farm?

A pair of Boxing March hares signalling spring at the farm!

This week marked the Spring Equinox: the arrival of spring. The word equinox comes from the Latin term for ‘equal night’: aequus (equal) and nox (night), and honours the day and night being of equal length. The overarching theme of the equinox is ‘balance’, and Pagans believed that at this time, the male sun was in harmony with the female moon. 

The Spring Equinox is a celebration of Earth’s awakening and renewed sense of life; the earth is waking from its winter slumber and bringing with it new gifts. Take your time to notice them: bright blooms like daffodils, tulips, daisies and crocuses lining footpaths, spring greens and sprouts shooting up, lambs taking their first steps, and the taste of wild garlic and mustard flowers dancing on your tongue. 

In ancient times, Pagans celebrated the goddess ‘Ostara’ during the Spring Equinox; the goddess of dawn, spring, fertility and rebirth. Historically, work was carried out at this time to ensure a fruitful year on farms: horses, ploughs, seeds and homes were blessed, and predictions would be made for the health of livestock and crops. 

Here at the farm, our days are still guided by the rhythms of nature. We’ve been busy ploughing and cultivating the land ready for our next herbal ley rotation. As you come down the drive, you may notice that the field to your right has turned from green to brown, with the sunflower heads picked clean by our wild birds. We’re now readying the soil for a new seed mix. Come summer, we hope it will be a haven for wildlife. 

A beautiful Yellowhammer sighted last week!

Cafe Catch-Up: What's new in the cafe?

To welcome in the spring, we’ve adorned our tables with vases of tulips from the farm and updated our menu to feature fresh spring produce from the kitchen garden. 

We also have an exciting announcement…the Cafe will now be serving a mid-week meat dish on Wednesdays! Currently on the menu is locally-sourced venison from Ditchley Park Estate, and last week, this came in the form of venison burgers with homemade polenta chips, slaw and salad leaves from the kitchen garden. It went down a treat with Cafe customers and we look forward to supporting more local farms in the future. 

Venison is a highly sustainable and ethical form of meat, and also a way of supporting sustainable, humane deer management. It’s a great source of protein, incredibly lean, and rich in iron. Next time you visit, why not give it a try?

Delicious venison burger and polenta chips on the menu

Garden Treasures: What’s been happening down in the Kitchen Garden?

This week in the garden, we’ve welcomed the colours of spring in all their glory. On Friday, we harvested the first of the rhubarb crop for our weekly shares, finding joy in their sweet, tangy smell and dreaming of warm rhubarb crumbles to come. We also harvested bunches of red and pink tulips for our customers, admiring their bright, vibrant colours. 

We bought in the Spring Equinox with cups of thyme tea in the newly built polytunnel and listened to the sound of geese flying overhead. Their sighting is a sure sign that spring has truly arrived. 

The rest of the week saw us preparing beds for onion planting, tending to baby leeks, harvesting our first cauliflowers for the FarmED kitchen, and welcoming faces old and new for our volunteer days.

Look at that gorgeous bunch!

Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?

FarmED Book Club

Last Tuesday marked an exciting date in our calendar as we hosted our first FarmED Book Club gathering! We welcomed a group of eight book-lovers to our cosy library space, and discussed Helen Rebanks’ ‘The Farmer’s Wife’ over coffee. We had a lovely group consisting of farmers, farmer’s wives, writers, mothers and grandparents, making the themes from the book very relevant and affirming for many. 

In her book, Helen admits that ‘some days, I am just firefighting’, and conveys the day-to-day running of family life in a brilliantly honest and raw way. She paints ordinary domestic details with great richness and you are left with the feeling that choosing motherhood is just as important and valuable a path as any other. The book is filled with recipes collated over the course of her life, too, and many in the group commented that they were excited to try them out. 

Our next book group meeting will be held on Tuesday 23rd April, where we’ll be discussing Derek Gow’s ‘Bring Back the Beaver’. You can join via our Facebook group here, or by emailing

Both Derek Gow and Helen Rebanks will be guests at our Farm and Food Literature Festival in May. We’re excited to see you there!

Carbon Clinic

Jed leading the group through the world of soil!

On Tuesday, we welcomed a diverse group of 16 farmers, landowners, advisors and students to FarmED for an immersive ‘Carbon Clinic’ course. Farming is one of the few industries that has the potential to sequester more carbon than it produces, and this day was dedicated to finding out how. The group gained practical advice on how to measure and improve their carbon management, as well as information on carbon credits and trading. 

Becky Willson from the Farm Carbon Toolkit led a session exploring carbon and greenhouse gasses and their role in agriculture. Guests were asked to bring their laptops and have a go at producing their own carbon calculation for their land, before being talked through how to interpret the data and given practical steps on how they could improve their footprint. Jed Soleiman, environmentalist and University of Oxford PhD student, then led a fascinating talk on soil, highlighting how soil health plays a critical role in carbon sequestration. He took the group through the layers of the soil, from the world of microfauna visible only under a microscope to the earthworms, birds, and plants that live on the soil surface.

Hartpury Tech Box Away Day

Last week we welcomed a group of people from Hartpury University TechBox Programme for an away day. The group consisted of individuals looking to move into the agricultural sector, with their businesses ranging from compostable packaging to hemp products. Kate gave them an introduction to all things farming, from the history of agriculture to the farming year, before Ian took the group on a guided walk around the farm. It was a brilliant day and the group left with the knowledge ready to start their new ventures in the agricultural world!

Lunchtime Talk: Grow Your Own Veg

Tim Mitchel, head grower at Asthall Manor Kitchen Garden, led an engaging LunchTime Talk last Wednesday on the ins and outs of growing your own vegetables. The talk took the form of a Q&A, allowing the audience to pick Tim’s brains on everything from composting to seasonal planting.

Tim also got into the nitty gritty of topics like water storage, lighting, weather management and worms. Like us, Tim grows his food to organic and permaculture principles, embodying the ethos of “Some For the Birds, Some for the Bugs and Some for Us”. 

A group of 19 people attended the talk and left with the wisdom and confidence to start growing their own veg. The group were all treated to a delicious lunch in the FarmED Cafe afterwards, where they sampled the produce from our very own kitchen garden. 


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