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Field Notes - News from the Farm

15th April - 21st 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.

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

All smiles, Ian paying a visit to Lauriston Farm

Despite the dreary weather this week, we’ve had our own sunshine on the farm in the form of four new happy and healthy calves. The cows and heifers have now all given birth and have all taken to the role of motherhood brilliantly. This week they’ll be turned out onto the fields where they’ll spend the summer grazing as a suckler herd, always a highlight in the farming calendar.  Our flock of sheep have also been busy munching through the orchard and are now ready to be moved to a different section of the farm. We’ll now over-seed where they’ve been congregating in the busiest places, such as the water trough and gateway, to keep the orchard healthy. 

Our founder, Ian Wilkinson, had a busy weekend visiting a new agro-ecological farm up in Edinburgh as well as sitting on a panel for the Six Inches of Soil Screening in Cirencester. Lauriston Farm is an 100 acre urban city farm run by a workers cooperative, focused on food growing, biodiversity and community. Like us, they have their own Community Supported Agriculture scheme and are planning to run courses for people interested in regenerative agriculture. They invited Ian to visit, inspired by the work we’re doing here at FarmED, and he shared stories and advice over a cup of tea and a tour of their farm. If you’re planning on going to Edinburgh anytime soon, you should definitely pop in and pay them a visit! 

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

Camilla the pizza chef!

The Cafe has been buzzing with excitement this week as the team received some pizza training. This will allow us to offer our signature wood-fired pizzas on additional days throughout the week. Nick taught everyone how to press and roll the dough, apply the toppings evenly and expertly cook them in the pizza oven, checking for the perfect temperature and using an aluminium pizza peel to turn the crispy bases. This week, we’ll be offering our pizzas on Thursday as well as Friday, so make sure to book a table to avoid disappointment! 

We’ve also welcomed a new cook to the FarmED kitchen this week! Gareth has worked for over 20 years as a chef at restaurants including Daylesford, Soho Farmhouse and La petite maison. He’s passionate about cooking with local, fresh ingredients and we’re for him to bring his talent to the team! 

Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?

Grace & Savour Field Day

On Monday, a group of esteemed chefs from Grace & Savour came for a field day at FarmED. Grace & Savour is a Michelin Star Restaurant at Hampton Manor in Birmingham, and the team came for a day at the farm to learn all about agro-ecological farming. They were taken on a farm walk by our Agricultural Lead, Kate, and were given a deep delve into the history of farming. Dan, our head grower from The Kitchen Garden People, gave a talk on our CSA project and the importance of growing in a way that works with nature. Gareth cooked them a delicious lunch of lentil and vegetable dahl served with quinoa and wild garlic yoghurt, meaning they were able to sample the produce grown on our farm. The team left with full stomachs and minds filled with inspiration.

Sustainable Beekeeping

The beekeepers getting hands on in the apiary

Last Thursday, our resident beekeeper, Tony Yarrow, led a brilliant course for a group of aspiring beekeepers. Tony has spent the past 50 years learning from bees, and, with a nature-led approach, has 15-20 thriving colonies at different sites in North Oxfordshire, one of which is on our farm. He believes that beekeeping should be treated as a partnership, where we can live in harmony with both the bees and the changing seasons. He imparted his beekeeping wisdom, from what equipment you need to get started and how to problem solve common issues (like swarming or no honey being produced), to how to practise non-intrusive intervention and hive observations. 

We received some lovely feedback from attendees, who all commented how knowledgeable Tony was and how much they took away from the day. One person commented that they were inspired by the ‘whole principle of the farm and working regeneratively’. 

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

Stormy skies and potato planting

This week the cold wind has been persisting, and, like for many other growers around the UK, this has meant plenty of planning. The caterpillar tunnel was put to the test in the gales on Monday, and in its attempts to escape, one of the corners came loose and a few small holes appeared in the skin. Thankfully, the team were able to repair it the following day and it was left looking good as new. 

The ground is also steadily being cleared of last season's crops to make room for new seedlings, which have been given a head-start to life in Dan’s plant-nursery. Volunteers also helped to harvest over 400 leeks, plant Charlotte, Nicola and Cara potatoes, and fleece shallots and onions to protect them from the cold. 

This week’s harvest for the kitchen has also seen some new and exciting additions. As well as leeks, fennel, rhubarb, chard and salad, the team foraged nettle heads, wild garlic, and plenty of fresh herbs for the FarmED Cafe. We can’t wait to see how Gareth will work his magic with these! It’s great to see so much abundance at this time of year in the fields and hedgerows, despite the lack of sunshine.


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