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Field Notes - News from the Farm

8th January - 14th January


Welcome back to News from the Farm. Each week we will be bringing you all the news from FarmED, including what’s happening in the fields and hedgerows, the farm to fork Cafe and the Conference Barn - 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?


Morning frost over the rolling hills


So far, the arrival of a new year has brought with it some icy temperatures, blanketing the landscape in a thin veil of frost. On days when the sun is shining, and the mist graces the ground at early dawn, this makes for some stunning scenery. January is a time of relative quiet for nature: the earth seems to be in hibernation, surrendering to the cold and lying dormant until the springtime. And yet, there are glimpses of life happening below the surface. The first snowdrops are waiting to spring up from the undergrowth, earthworms are working hard under the soil to repair any damage ready for spring, and trees, while appearing to be frozen in time, are undergoing a whole host of intricate processes. Bark covering the trees helps to protect the wood underneath from disease, storms, and cracking in freezing temperatures. The preparations made in autumn mean that trees are now able to conserve their energy throughout the winter, slowing down their internal metabolism and dispersing stored nutrients to where it's most needed. 


Our intern, Jade, scattering birdseed as the sun begins to set


So, as you take a walk around the farm, take a moment to imagine all these miracles happening away from sight. We’ve also been lucky enough to host an array of wildlife in these cold winter months. A drove of gorgeous brown hares has recently been sighted in our herbal ley fields, and our pond is currently home to a pair of mallards, scouting out where to lay their foundations for the year ahead. You may also remember from a recent Field Notes blog post that we are members of the North East Cotswold Farmer Cluster. As part of their Supplementary Bird Feeding Project, which aims to provide extra food for struggling farmland birds over the winter season, we have begun scattering birdseed across our fields. We hope to provide a safe haven for birds to feed and rest.  


Our resident environmentalist and PHD student, Jed, was on site last week, checking all of his trial plots around our eight-year rotation fields. You can read more about his project here, and keep up to date with his progress by checking our blog weekly. 


Aside from that, the cold weather has provided us with the perfect conditions to tidy up the farm before everything starts to grow again and the springtime keeps us busy. The ground has hardened with the frost making it less muddy and easier to get around (without losing wellies in the process), and we are slowly but steadily ticking off the maintenance jobs on our to-do-list.


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



All smiles: the lovely Louise and Phoebe ready to open the doors after the Christmas break 


This week we’ve opened up our doors to the public again, and have loved seeing all your lovely faces as we welcome you back to the Cafe. Our wood burner has been blazing and our menu has featured some delicious winter warmers: the perfect antidote to the January blues. 


January’s harvest has also brought with it fresh bundles of inspiration for our kitchen team. This week the menu included a delightful pumpkin and coconut soup, a puff pastry tart filled with a FarmED veg and lentil dahl, parsnip, cheddar, harissa and coriander rarebit on a toasted english muffin, as well as a vibrant selection of seasonal salads.


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


Head grower Emma (l) and volunteer Martha ( r) posing with a bouquet of flower sprout tops


With the winter solstice behind us, the days are gradually getting longer and there is lots to look forward to down in the garden. As well as plenty of planning for the year ahead, the team has been busy preparing for the first harvest of the new year. On Thursday, we welcomed back our wonderful group of volunteers; the day saw us catching up on festive breaks and keeping warm by pulling over 260 leeks out of the frozen ground. We also dipped into our storage of autumn crops, including beetroot, potatoes and red onions for our Friday veg boxes. Storing our autumn vegetables in containers ensures we can continue to provide a variety of locally grown veggies all year round. It also means that you know exactly where the produce you’re getting in your box has come from. This week’s boxes also saw a selection of beautiful salads from the polytunnels,  as well as flower sprout tops. 


Martha, Abi and Alice harvesting salad in the polytunnels for Friday’s harvest 


Was one of your new year's resolutions to spend more time outside in the fresh air? Our volunteer days are perfect for easing you in, whether you’re a complete beginner or already a green-fingered goddess. With plenty of good conversation, meaningful work and (most importantly), delicious cake and coffee from the FarmED Cafe, these days truly have a wonderful atmosphere and are a brilliant way to stay connected to your local community. Our volunteer days run on Thursday and Friday mornings between 9.30 and 1pm, so do pop in to say hello. Alternatively, drop us an email at thekitchengardenpeople@gmail.com to find out more. 


FarmED Reads: A space where we celebrate our bountiful library of literature and tell you what we’ve been loving this week.



With tickets now on sale for our annual Farm and Food Literature Festival, why not get a head-start and delve into the wonderful selection of books we’ll be celebrating? Among others, we’ll be hearing from Helen Rebanks, author of the Sunday Times best-seller The Farmer’s Wife: My Life in Days. 


In this beautiful, honest memoir, Helen truly lets us see into her life, taking us on a journey from the farmhouse table of her grandmother’s cottage, to the home she now shares with own four kids and husband, James (author of The Shepherd's Life). Taking place across a single day on her farm in the stunning Lake District, this novel tenderly weaves together both past and present, forming an authentic story that leaves your heart full of love and light. It’s a tale of good food and better company, of what it means to raise a family, and a beautiful depiction of rural life. 


We are planning to launch a brand new FarmED Book Club and to focus on Helen Rebanks’ book to kick us off. If you’d like to join, keep an eye on our social media @RealFarmED for more info soon.  



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