top of page

Field Notes - News from the Farm

6th - 12th 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?

Our favourite view!

Summer has arrived all of a sudden at Honeydale Farm and we’ve been soaking up the glorious sunshine. Our crops are shooting up from the earth, our wildflowers are blooming and the cows are lazing happily in the sun. Everything is turning green and there’s a sense of real joy in the air.

We’ve had a busy week at Honeydale, from a 4am start after the bank holiday for our annual ‘Dawn Chorus’ farm walk, to the highly-anticipated Farm and Food Literature Festival on Saturday. We’ve welcomed two new members to our ever-growing team and the Kitchen Garden People have been busy planting for the summer ahead. Read on to find out more…

Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?

Dawn Chorus

On Tuesday, we had an early wake up call along with thousands across the world for International Dawn Chorus Day. It’s an event where people, worldwide, rise early to listen to the sweet song of birdsong, a spectacular sound at this time of year. A 4am start didn’t stop 30 people coming to join Nick from Wilder Skies on a sunrise walk around the farm. Starting at the field just behind the conference barn, we heard the beautiful song of the skylarks first, before robins, blackbirds and song thrush joined as we moved towards the orchard. As the sun rose, chiffchaffs, whitethroats and blackcaps began to sing, reaching a peak at around 5am. It was a beautiful morning and not a sound we’ll be forgetting anytime soon. Nick explained that, while farmland birds are suffering serious declines, places like FarmED are a beacon of hope, showing what can be possible when regenerative farming techniques are employed and we work with nature. We're proud to be home to many species on the UK’s ‘red list’, and a safe haven for breeding birds to nest. The walk was followed by a delicious breakfast of pastries, granola, overnight oats, and of course, much needed tea and coffee. What a glorious start to the month!

Lunchtime Talk - The Chippy Larder

On Thursday, we held a LunchTime Talk in collaboration with Rizvana from Chippy Larder. The Chippy Larder is a community hub which aims to tackle poverty in Chipping Norton and the surrounding area. This year, they’re celebrating their fourth anniversary and are only expecting to expand. As well as being a helpline for low-income households, the larder also aims to prevent food-waste by working with local food suppliers. Rizvana spoke about the trials and tribulations she went through to get the Larder to where it is today, the power of community, and her gratitude to local growers who the charity wouldn’t exist without. 

Guests left feeling inspired, with many people asking how they could get involved, and others asking how they could set up their own similar project in their own area.

Farm & Food Literature Festival

Sophie Yeo, Helen Rebanks and Patrick Neale at the Farm & Food Literature Festival!

Saturday marked our annual Farm and Food Literature Festival, and it’s safe to say it was a resounding success! It was a full-on day with a total of nine speakers, with authors travelling from as far as Devon, Newcastle, the Lake District, and the Orkney Islands. We had a great turnout of around 90 guests, a fantastic buffet served by our wonderful kitchen and Cafe team, and plenty of sunshine, too. 

Jane Cooper, author of The Lost Flock, was a stand-out, telling the story of how she moved to one of Scotland’s wildest islands to follow her passion for knitting. She became the sole guardian of a remarkable breed of sheep known as Orkney Boreray, one of the few surviving heritage sheep in northern Europe. She spoke of her newfound connection to the Scottish landscape, the importance of preserving heritage breeds and, of course, her love of wool. 

Sophie Yeo, first-time author of Nature’s Ghost, followed, taking us on a journey through forgotten lands. She read a passage from her book, which describes landscapes from ancient forests rising after the Ice Age to the eagle-haunted skies of the Dark Ages. It was a true testament to the power of storytelling. 

Helen Rebanks wrapped up the day with her debut, The Farmer’s Wife. In conversation with FarmED’s wonderful storyteller, Fiona Mountain, Helen shared just what it means to be a mother. From juggling farm-life to supporting her husband and caring for the children, Helen’s book makes us aware of just how important the role of motherhood is. Her story resonated with many members of the audience, who commented how refreshing it was to feel seen. She’s recently received praise from award winning author, Kate Mosse, who commended her book for being “true, unflinching, powerful, lyrical”. We couldn’t agree more. 

Book signings, interesting conversations and delicious food!

Did you miss out on tickets to the Lit Fest? Don’t worry. There’s plenty more exciting events coming up. This Saturday we’re hosting a group of actors and playwrights from Chipping Norton Theatre for an immersive farm walk -  grab tickets  here. The Theatre is also putting on two plays in June, Lark Rise and Barn Dance, two beautiful tales of rural life.

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

Break time for the team!

This week has been full of treasures down in the kitchen garden, from nesting baby birds to new plant growth and lessons from an entomologist. 

The sun has been beating down and the growers’ tans are already beginning to show - it feels as though we’ve transitioned from winter to summer overnight. Early in the week, the team kept busy digging furrows with the two wheel tractor, ready for planting potatoes. This was no mean feat in the 23 degree heat! Volunteers then helped to plant these potato sets on Thursday, as well as celeriac, peppers and tomatoes in the polytunnels.

Amongst the regular volunteers, we also welcomed two new faces to the garden this week. One of these was Kirsty, who is currently studying Agriculture at Hartpury University. She’ll be volunteering for us three days a week over the summer holidays, in the hopes to learn more about crop production and organic growing. FarmED’s new Public Engagement Coordinator, Alex (also our new resident entomologist!), joined us for a day of planting in the sunshine. Within half an hour he spotted two types of bumblebees (cuckoo bumblebee and buff tailed bumble bee), a leaf beetle, a dance fly, a carrion beetle, and a parasitic wasp. We have lots to learn from him and it was brilliant to see our plot through his eyes. 

At this time of year, it’s essential for hatching baby birds to have plenty of insect life around them to munch on, as it provides them with much-needed protein. This is why we’re proud to not use any insecticides or pesticides on our crops and to have a thriving ecosystem of insect life. The sound of baby birds chirping in the hedgerows is one we’ll never tire of.

New growth has also been sprouting up now the rain has passed, fleeces have come off the new seedlings and we’ve harvested the first of the broad beans and spring kale. The smell of fresh mint has been filling the polytunnels alongside green garlic - the scent of new beginnings and a busy but wonderful summer ahead…


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page