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.
Weekly Recap: What’s new at FarmED
Our Friday Farm Walks are the perfect way to see the farm in all its winter glory.
As we enter December, we have been blessed with the gift of beautiful winter landscapes: rolling mist lacing the hills, frost-covered trees, and a storybook-like feel created by the low-lying clouds. It’s certainly a magical time of year at the farm.
Yet, while nature has been reminding us to pause and slow down, there has also been plenty happening behind the scenes. Last week, we received some very exciting news. Timothy Tasker Architects, the firm behind our beautiful buildings, announced that they had won a prestigious AJ Award for their work on our Cotswolds farm.
The project was praised as a ‘shining example’ of regeneration by judges and was said to embody the ethos of sustainability throughout its design. We wish to congratulate the team on having successfully transformed the FarmED vision into a tangible reality. Having a warm and inviting space is crucial for us to educate and inspire, and we are proud to say that we have achieved just that.
We’re also pleased to announce that we have a new addition to our FarmED family. FarmED is constantly growing, and, with over 19,000 followers on Instagram, it was time for the team to expand, too. Charlie has taken up the role of our new Digital Marketing Executive, and we’re excited for her to bring her expertise and passion to the team. Keep an eye on our website and social media for all the changes coming soon…
Cafe Catch-Up: What’s new in the cafe?
This week marked the start of Advent and festivities are in full swing at FarmED. The team has been busy dusting down the decorations, stringing up fairy lights in the cafe and conference barn, putting up the four Christmas trees and hanging beautiful handmade decorations from the branches and beams in the cafe. All of our Christmas trees are sourced from Bruern Farm, just a couple of miles down the road. As you make your way through the cafe doors, you will be welcomed by the sweet scent of pine. The sight of the robin redbreasts hiding amidst the tree branches is sure to also bring you some festive joy.
If you came down to the farm last week, you may have noticed that the car park was particularly busy. We hosted over 100 people from Dalcour Maclaren on Thursday and Friday for team training events. After using our conference barn and library space for various meetings, presentations and team building activities, they tucked into delicious lunches, including local cheese, meat from Paddock Farm and a selection of salads from the kitchen garden. This was all finished off with a hearty homemade apple crumble, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Our cafe team was brilliant, helping everything to run smoothly and making sure everyone was well looked after. All in all a successful two days!
Garden Treasures: What’s been happening down in the kitchen garden?
Winter in the garden is all about balance. No two years are ever the same and although nature has its steady rhythms and predictable patterns, it’s always a case of taking things day by day.
If you read last week’s blog, you may remember that we harvested a whole lot of beetroot on our volunteer days to protect it from the frost. This Thursday, volunteers spent the day in the packing shed, de-leafing and de-mudding the beetroot before placing it into large 25kg sacks to store for the leaner winter months. Last year, we lost much of our crop to frost, leaving it in the ground through successive sub-zero temperatures, so we have certainly learnt our lesson the hard way. Storing it will ensure we can keep the crop dry and distribute it over the coming weeks, both to the kitchens at FarmED and other local businesses, and our community veg boxes. As usual, despite the repetitive nature of de-leafing and the frosty temperatures (even inside the packing shed), our volunteers warmed the barn with their chatter, laughter and good spirits.
On Friday, the team put in hard graft harvesting our beautiful celeriac - the stars of the show in our veg boxes. Below, we’ve shared a simple recipe from BBC Good Food you can follow - celeriac is perfect for dressing up any winter dish.
Step 1: In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, honey and lemon juice together thoroughly with a generous sprinkling of salt and some freshly ground black pepper, so it all becomes one sauce.
Step 2: Peel and quarter the celeriac, then, working quickly, coarsely grate it and stir into the sauce until evenly coated. Serve the celeriac remoulade with any meal you like, or simply as a topper on toast.
FarmED Reads: A space where we celebrate our bountiful library of literature and tell you what we’ve been loving this week.
The theme for the last couple of weeks has been recognising the natural ebb and flow of the seasons and celebrating the diversity of wild birds. In honour of this, we have chosen ‘The Meaning of Geese’ by Nick Acheson as our Book of the Week. Described by critics as ‘honest, human and heart-grabbing’, the book delves into the observations Nick made from his beloved home in Norfolk, following the pinkfeet and brent grease that filled the landscape as they flew in from Iceland and Siberia. He kept a diary of his sightings as he traced the birds’ flight through all weathers on his trusty red bicycle, cycling 1,200 miles in total. He recounts the stories from the community of people he met along the way and walks us through the seasons month by month. This book is a truly beautiful tribute to the wild birds that fill our skies and the important role they play in both our lives and our changing world.