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Field Notes - News from the Farm 13th November - 19th November

Welcome back to News from the Farm. Each week we will be bringing you all the news from FarmED, including what’s happening in the fields and hedgerows, the farm to fork Cafe and the Conference Barn, 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.

A special announcement

For those of you who have been keeping up with us on social media, or read last week's blog post, you may be aware that last week we had some very exciting news. At the prestigious Ashden Awards ceremony held in London last week, FarmED was presented with the Award for Future Farmers. We were chosen from 200 applicants and we are so proud of each and every one of our team, supporters and visitors for helping us to achieve this incredible honour. Winning this award means that we will receive a grant, publicity and continued support from Ashden to help us grow our mission and continue to raise awareness of the work that we do.

Five team members traveled up to London to represent us at the awards last Thursday, which was held at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The evening was a joyous celebration of inspiring individuals and ground-breaking initiatives in the climate space. The Ashden Awards were set up to demonstrate what’s possible in the move to shift to a fairer, low carbon future and the evening reflected this, full of powerful individuals and organisations looking to make a change. Guest speaker and climate justice organiser Tori Tsui was interviewed on stage by climate solutionist, author and writer Solitaire Townsend. Tori said:

“So much of what the awardees are demonstrating is a testament to being great changemakers. The first thing is working in community – change isn’t going to be achieved by one individual alone. The reality is that change comes from us working together…the winners tonight are a clear demonstration of that.”

FarmED’s Co-Founder, Ian Wilkinson, accepted the award with a powerful speech, which you can listen to here. He rounded off by inviting the room to FarmED:

FarmED is a prime example of what’s possible in the climate space

“Come to FarmED to see how regenerative, agroecological farming methods can work together to improve biodiversity and carbon capture. Good for the soil, people and the planet.”

Cafe Catch-Up: What’s new in the FarmED Cafe?

Jarȉus, Dawn and Ian posing with the Ashden Award in our farm-to-fork cafe

This week has seen the cafe revamp its library space, host some delightful new items on the menu and welcome some very special guests through its doors.

One of our wonderful Front of House assistants and youngest member of the FarmED team, Phoebe Palmer, has been busy showcasing her baking skills in the kitchen, treating us to a new delight on the cafe menu: Clementine Cake. Deliciously moist, this cake really is a treat for all the senses and is perfect for getting you in the festive spirit as we draw closer to December.

On Friday, following Ian’s invitation at the Ashden Awards, we welcomed some friends from The Cameroon. We greeted them at Kingham Station early on Friday morning and after letting them recover from the train journey with a slice of cake and a coffee in the cafe, took them on a Farm Walk around all 107 acres of our demonstration farm. The group consisted of Jarȉus, coordinator of Ceraf Nord, an organisation aiming to restore degraded ecosystems in The Cameroon, Marie-Clare and Maggie who run the Centre for Women, Peace and Security in London, and Dawn, International Programmes Officer for Ashden. It was a day filled with inspiring conversations, laughter and full bellies.

Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?

Can you tell the difference between hay and straw, which vegetables are in season and why do sheep get shorn? Just a few of the things you can find out on our introduction to Agriculture course

Thursday saw the launch of our Introduction to Agriculture course, the first in a series of events we are hoping to run regularly at FarmED. The course was set up for people wanting to gain an insight into the agricultural sector, whether they live locally and just want to know what’s happening in the fields around them, or are looking to enter a career in farming. Our Agricultural Lead, Kate, spent the morning taking the group through a range of topics including what food we produce, the wildlife we share the land with, common challenges farmers face, and an in-depth look at the farming year. The group were then taken on a farm walk to explore our demonstration farm. Attendees commented that the space felt welcoming, non-judgemental and inspiring, and there were plenty of interesting questions. The day was topped off with a delicious meal at our farm-to-fork cafe: pumpkin arancini balls and cavolo nero picked from the Kitchen Garden. Here’s one review we received:

“A visit to FarmED always sees me leave with renewed hope. Just a walk around, seeing and listening to the abundance of birds and other wildlife there…and only guessing what other delights my terrier Steve is picking up with his nose in overdrive! I look forward to my next FarmED visit (and optimism recharge!)”

If this course sounds like something you’d be interested in, we can now announce that it will be running again on 5th March. Springtime is always an exciting time on the farm so don’t miss out! Tickets are available to buy here.

On Saturday, we welcomed the Wychwood Forest Trust to the conference barn as they held their annual AGM for both members and non-members of the Trust. There was a great turnout of over 80 people and the day was a huge success. The morning kicked off with a short film about the WFT’s newest nature reserve, Gibbets Close, followed by a talk from our founder, Ian Wilkinson, titled ‘FarmED: Not just for farmers’ and a walk around the farm. The Wychwood Forest Trust works with local communities to protect and restore the spaces that were once part of the historic Wychwood Forest. It’’s a cause we also feel passionately about.

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

On Monday, the team battled through gusts of winds and heavy rain as they got down to work harvesting. The team gathered beetroot, savoy cabbages, winter salads and rainbow chard this week, turning the veg boxes into a wonderful display of colours. For the kitchen here at FarmED, rocket, kale and perpetual spinach were added to this list.

Thursdays and Fridays down in the KItchen Garden are known as ‘volunteer days’. From 9.30-1pm, anyone is welcome to join the team as they harvest for the local community or work through their ongoing seasonal jobs - weeding, watering, planting and more. There is always a real sense of community on these days, and plenty of good conversation and cake alongside the hard graft. Why not sign up yourself? Find out more here.

Salad mountain: The team hard at work on harvest day

Dairy Diaries: News from the milking parlour

This week has seen the cows at our on-site micro-dairy make the move inside for the winter. Although Hallam keeps his cattle grazing outside on our fields for as long as possible, the amount of rain we have had over the past few weeks has meant that the grass fields here are now too wet. In these conditions the ground can be easily damaged (poached) by the cows hooves and quickly turn into a muddy mess. The herd’s new home in the barn is large and spacious, and they’ll be fed on homegrown sainfoin silage until Springtime. They are now completely settled and enjoying the calm of life under cover. They’ve also been keeping the Kitchen Garden team company on harvest days!

The cows enjoying the peace of their new life under cover


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