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Field Notes - News from the Farm

29th April - 5th May

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?

Hawthorn is also known as the 'May-tree' and represents fertility

This week we celebrated May Day and the Celtic festival of ‘Beltane’, marking the peak of spring and the beginning of summer. With the arrival of May comes many blessings. The air is filled with birdsong, and at this time of year we are reminded how lucky we are to be home to so many farmland birds. Many of the species we have here on the farm are now on the UK’s ‘red list’, meaning their numbers are in decline. These include thrushes, wrens, blackbirds and skylarks.

Our wildflower meadow is abuzz with vibrant colours: the cheerful yellows of cowslips, dandelions, meadow buttercups and yellow rattle, the soft blue hues of forget-me-nots, and the pure white of ox-eye daisies and yarrow. Hawthorn blossom decorates the hedgerows and the candle-like white flowers of horse chestnuts stand tall among them. 

The second Celtic fire festival of the year, Beltane, celebrates fertility and the potency of the life force. It’s a time of union, of love, and a month to honour the blossoming of life. Nature is having a party: the earth is singing, the sky is blue, and we’re in the middle of it all.

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

The sun was shining for the cauliflower harvest

This week, we welcomed the month of May with yoga poses and the planting of summer crops. Rain during the first half of the week was made up for by glorious sunshine come Friday and the bank holiday weekend. Our onion plants have shot up in the sun as if by magic and the spring crops are all looking promising. We spent Thursday strawberry planting with volunteers, always an exciting day in a growers’ calendar. 

The team have also been busy planting over 600 asparagus plants, foraging for fresh herbs, harvesting the last of the leeks, and ridging out potato plants to stop the spuds from poking out the top and turning green. This is the ultimate test of upper body strength and what we call a ‘green workout’ -  a.k.a. very hungry work! We’ve also harvested cauliflowers this week for our shares, a small miracle at this time of year. Our cauliflower plants have over-wintered brilliantly and to be still harvesting them in May is something pretty rare. This means we can keep our customers happy while we’re in the midst of the hungry gap. 

Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?

Lunchtime Talk - Farming Through the Ages

This week, our Agricultural Lead, Kate, led a brilliant lunchtime talk all about how farming has changed over the years. Kate’s family has a rich history in farming, and throughout the talk she shared lessons she’d learnt from her grandfather, George Henderson, author of The Farming Ladder. We also had the privilege of hearing from Jim and Wendy, the previous owners of Honeydale Farm before it was passed to Ian and Celene. We looked at old photos and beautiful illustrations of the farm to see how things like buildings, equipment, clothes and tasks have changed in the past few decades. More than 20 people came to the talk and everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch in the Cafe afterwards.

The Harmony Project

On Thursday, we welcomed The Harmony Project to the farm for an away day and a guided walk around the farm. The Harmony Project is a brilliant organisation who aim to put nature and sustainability at the heart of education. They’re dedicated to transforming the education system in a way that means young people are not just equipped to pass exams, but to deal with environmental and social challenges too. The project’s goal is to deepen students' connection to the natural world and encourage people to live sustainably. It was an honour to host their team here at the farm and we encourage you to find out more about the brilliant work they do.

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

This week, the Cafe has been filled with sunshine: our doors have been flung open and customers have been enjoying their lunch on the picnic benches outside. We’ve celebrated the month of May by adoring the tables with lilac flowers and hawthorn blossom, and freshening up our menu to feature a whole host of delicious spring dishes. 

On Wednesday, we catered for a group of 60 as part of the CHCx3 project (Centre for High Carbon Capture Cropping). This exciting project will test the effect of different crop production systems on the environment, ultimately helping to enhance carbon capture and develop new carbon offsetting platforms. The team held a two day conference at FarmED and on Wednesday were served a delicious buffet of seasonal salads, homemade tarts and quiches, local cheeses and meat from Paddock Farm.


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