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Field Notes - News from the Farm

8th April - 14th April

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 Cafe 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.

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

Golden hour in the Cafe

This week the Cafe has been busy as usual, providing a haven from the wind and rain. The menu has featured lots of comforting delights, including a warming butter bean, kale and vegetable broth, vibrant salads filled with seasonal vegetables from the kitchen garden, and a baked potato topped with a lentil and vegetable dahl. On Monday we had a visit from our Cafe band, who filled the room with their soulful music, and Friday marked the highly-anticipated pizza day, which predictably resulted in a full house. Due to popular demand, we’re excited to announce that our delicious wood-fired pizzas will soon be available on additional weekdays, so watch this space! 

Pizza making in action!

Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?

Foraging Farm Walk

A wet but wonderful walk around the farm!

On Tuesday, Justine Gens from Ma Roemca led a group of 14 people from all walks of life on a Foraging Farm Walk, giving them an insight into how to identify and harvest wild plants. Justine is an expert forager and leads guided tours in wild areas around Oxfordshire. Guests were able to see the fields in a different light as they were taken around the farm, opening their eyes to the amazing world of edible plants and flowers. Justine shared her wild wisdom with the group, from how to make coffee from cleavers (a.k.a. sticky weed), to how to eat nettles without getting stung (her favourite ‘party trick’). She also talked through the amazing health benefits of each plant, including the healing properties of ground ivy and why we shouldn’t underestimate the power of dandelions. 

Much of this knowledge has been forgotten in today’s modern world of weed-killers and plastic-packaged herbs, but Justine calls for a revolution. By learning more about the environment around us and opening our eyes to what’s growing on our doorsteps, we can start to connect back to the seasons and reclaim some of the knowledge that goes back for millennia.

Fermentation Workshop

Guests getting stuck in!

Last week, our talented cook, Nick, led a hands-on fermentation workshop. As part of our Lunchtime Talk series, he taught a group of 14 budding home cooks how to make kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Fermented foods are a brilliant way to improve your gut health; the fermentation process unlocks nutrients in the food to aid digestion and create natural probiotics in your microbiome. Eating these foods regularly can help to boost your immune system, assist detoxification leading to healthy, glowing skin, and reset your digestive health. The gut is also directly linked to the brain, meaning your mental health will benefit, too. Attendees got to take home the goodies they made on the day, and were given top tips on how they could carry on their fermentation journey at home.

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

Eddie and Charlotte harvesting the beautiful tulips

This week, the kitchen garden team have once again embraced all the elements as the wind continues to blow and the rain shows no sign of letting up. This blustery weather means that, frustratingly, the crops are two-three weeks behind schedule, the little sunlight delaying their growth. It has, however, also taught ever the art of patience and The Kitchen Garden People have been busying themselves with plenty of other spring tasks. 

On Wednesday, the brand new caterpillar tunnel was skinned before volunteers helped to plant it with beetroot and fennel. These crops will be protected from the unpredictable elements in the tunnel, giving them a good head-start. A lot of time was spent clearing early spring crops, including cabbage and chard, which then made room for the summer crops. It'll soon be time to plant cucumbers and tomatoes in the polytunnels once there is no risk of frost. 

The rest of the week saw The Kitchen Garden People moving and covering sections of land to prepare the ground for new crops. This process is part of the no-dig system, which you can read all about here. The ground will be covered with tarp for four-six weeks, allowing the sun to warm up the ground, ready for planting.

On Friday, volunteers joined the team for a mega-harvest. Veg box customers were given an abundance of rainbow chard, leeks, salad, spring cabbage, parsley and tulips in their shares to welcome them back after a week off for Easter. A couple of new faces also joined for the dayb too, travelling all the way from Sheffield and London.

Book of the Week

Bringing Back the Beaver - Derek Gow

This week, we’re celebrating the brilliant Bringing Back the Beaver by conservationist and re-introduction expert, Derek Gow. With his witty and intelligent charm, Derek argues for a rewilding of Britain’s waterways. He outlines the history of the beaver, from their extinction in Great Britain to their proposed reintroduction. The book is full of beautiful illustrations, laugh-out-loud anecdotes and plenty of passion. It’s a story of one man’s quest to follow a less-trodden path, to do what needs doing in-spite of barriers around him, and to fight the case for saving a species long-forgotten. 

“No other creature it seems – other than perhaps elephants and humans – has such a profound and dramatic impact on the landscape. The beaver is an ecosystem engineer, architect of watery kingdoms and riparian habitats teeming with life, restorer of natural hydrology, creator – even – of soil itself.” - Bringing Back the Beaver, Derek Gow

Bringing Back the Beaver is the book we are currently reading in our FarmED Book Club. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, 23rd April, and you can sign up to our Facebook group here. Derek will also be speaking at the Farm and Food Literature Festival in May; make sure to get your tickets before they sell out!


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