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Field Notes - News from the Farm

13th - 19th 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?

A magical purple and blue display of the Northern Lights over our conference barn

The northern lights over Honeydale Farm

This week, we have some exciting news to share…Last Sunday, we had two surprise visitors from Kent. Emily and Joe, both passionate about farming, happened to stumble across FarmED on their weekend visit to the Cotswolds. As fate would have it, our gate was open as Celene and Sophie were busy with some weekend tasks in the fields. Joe insisted on taking some photos of the view, and, in a beautiful moment, he proposed to Emily! She said yes, of course.  

Emily shared: “Thank you for having such a beautiful place that will now be part of our story forever.”

We’d like to wish a lifetime of happiness to both Emily and Joe, and say a huge congratulations from all of us at FarmED! While we won’t be able to host their wedding here at the farm, we hope they’ll be back for a visit soon…

A romantic black and white photo of a man proposing to his girlfriend with our farm as the backdrop

The perfect backdrop

In other news, our sheep have been shorn and are looking summer-ready, and we were lucky enough to witness the northern lights over the fields. Read on to discover more of what we’ve been up to…

Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?

We Feed The UK

This month, we’re proud to be hosting the We Feed The UK pop-up portrait exhibition here at FarmED. Created in collaboration with The Gaia Foundation, this project celebrates farmers, growers and chefs around the country who are going ‘against the grain’ and challenging the norm in the agricultural space. 

The exhibition pairs photographers and poets with revolutionary individuals around the UK, from regenerative farmers to sustainable fishers. They’re the hidden heroes, often not seen in the spotlight of the climate change conversation, and have powerful stories to share. Now it’s time to celebrate their efforts and help them to make a change from the ground up. 

You can visit our exhibition any time on weekdays from 9-4pm. Pop in for a coffee at our cafe and take a wander around the inspiring displays in the conference barn. 

Visit We Feed The UK and @thegaiafoundation to find out about the project and where their exhibitions are taking them next.

Field Days

A group of scientists out in the field looking at crops and soil

The Rothamsted team talking soil.

This week, we welcomed a group of 50 team members from Rothamsted Research. They visited us for an away day, after conducting some tests on our fields. It was a brilliant day filled with engaging conversations and delicious food from our Cafe.

During their tour of the kitchen garden, Ian and Emma shared their plans to increase biodiversity on the farm, to understand interactions of species underground, and to create more habitats to support wildlife.

On Wednesday, we also hosted a group from Unilever for a Field Day. Kate and Ian guided the team on a farm walk and introduced them to the world of regenerative farming, sharing how it can transform our food system for the better. 

Unilever commented: “What a fabulous setting, amazing food and credible passionate teaching. Initially, we set out to learn more about regenerative agriculture - FarmED over delivered, not only teaching us but igniting passion & inspiration in our team.”

If you’re interested in hosting your team at our venue, get in touch - we’d love to have a chat! 

As I Was A Walking

On Saturday, we had the pleasure of hosting actors, poets, crafters and performers from Chipping Norton Theatre for an immersive farm walk called As I Was A-Walking. It was a fantastic day, with over 200 visitors making their way down the drive! 

As I was A-Walking was part of Chipping Norton Theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations, dedicated to sharing the forgotten stories of rural Oxfordshire. Performances were set up at various spots around the farm, and guests took themselves on a self-guided walk around the farm. The journey began with a performance of Michael Morpurgo’s Farm Boy, followed by traditional folk tunes from The Oakstone Trio, a poetry reading by the pond, and a talk from our very own Ian Wilkinson out in the fields. Visitors also learnt how to make traditional straw crafts in the barn, finishing their tour with a performance of haunting pastoral songs overlooking the valley. 

Each performance was enchanting, weaving together a beautiful story of rural life. The sun was shining down upon us and the Cafe was bustling with visitors stopping by for lunch. What a success!

A wonderful day of acting, music and dancing

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

This week, the Cafe has been filled with beautiful flowers from the kitchen garden, with pink sweet peas and blue cornflowers decorating the tables. It’s feeling like summer more by the day and our picnic benches have been full of people enjoying lunch outside, soaking up the sun and admiring the view. 

We also welcomed back our house band, D’Accord on Monday, who serenaded guests over a busy lunch service. The doors were flung open and the music filled the air. The band will be returning to the farm for our Summer Solstice event, which you can book tickets for here. It’s set to be a magical evening with music, a guided meditation, a walk around the farm and a BBQ. Don’t miss out!

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

This week, we’ve harvested the first of the sugar snap peas, green onions, coriander and tarragon for the FarmED kitchen. We’ve also welcomed six baby wrens who hatched in a nest inside our polytunnel, where they’re happily residing with their mum. Our polytunnels have been planted out and are now full of summer crops: aubergines, peppers, cucumbers, chiles, basil and tomatoes. 

We’ve been busy weeding the caterpillar tunnels and carefully tending to the lettuce and onions in the field, making sure they have plenty of space to grow. We’ve also prepared our fertility building ley for a two-year rotation, which will soon be sown with a herbal ley mix. We’ll be using a modern seed-fiddle to scatter the seed over the plot. 

One of the perks of working in the garden is nibbling on the first of our summer strawberries, which will soon be ready for harvest! If you have your own allotment or vegetable garden, you’ll know the taste of the first strawberry is a moment that’s hard to beat. 

FarmED’s new intern, Henry, came down for his first day of volunteering in the kitchen garden on Thursday and spent the morning preparing the squash and sweetcorn beds in the sunshine. We also had some wonderful help from visitors from our CSA course. It’s always exciting to see attendees return, sharing their progress and dreams. This year, over a third of them have come back to visit, which has been wonderful! This week, we welcomed Fran, who now works at Asthall Manor Kitchen Garden with Tim Mitchel, and Stu, who is hoping to set up a smallholding down in Devon. They got stuck in and picked our brains for knowledge, engaging in all sorts of inspiring conversations from microbiology and entomology to global health. 


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