15th January - 21st January
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 Café 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.
Cafe Catch-Up: What’s new in the Cafe?
One of our mouth-watering cheese scones warming up in the wood-fired oven
With the temperatures dropping to -7 this week, our cafe has offered the perfect space to cosy up in the warm. The menu has seen some new additions, including leek, kale, cheddar and feta savoury muffins and a FarmED vegetable chilli.
On Friday, we hosted one of our first Friday Farm Walks of the year and the group was served a delicious lunch, with veggies fresh from the kitchen garden. Click here to sign up to the next one.
Some of Phoebe’s delicious bakes
We also have something exciting to celebrate in the cafe. Phoebe Palmer, one of the youngest members of the team and a face many of you will recognise, is currently undertaking a Level 2 Patisserie and Confectionery Course at City of Oxford College. The course runs from September until June, and will equip her with a whole host of different skills. Her place has been fully funded by FarmED, in order to help develop her dream career in baking. So far she’s learnt to make a variety of enriched doughs, including doughnuts and hot cross buns, and is currently practising the art of pastry-making (puff, sweet and choux). Phoebe will, from now on, be spending two days a week baking in the FarmED kitchen, so keep an eye out on the counter for whatever she treats us to next.
“I’m finding the course really interesting and it’s nice to be around like-minded people, of all ages and backgrounds. I’m very grateful to FarmED for giving me this opportunity,” Phoebe says.
Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?
We've had a calm start to January in the conference barn, but we're looking forward to our courses beginning this week. Both the highly-anticipated (and sold-out) Pastured Poultry and Pastured Pigs courses will be starting off the new year. Guests will hear from multiple experienced farmers, each exploring the challenge of selecting, feeding and housing both poultry and pigs in a regenerative context. The interactive workshops will leave attendees inspired to start their own journey, from tips on diet to welfare considerations and building designs. Guests will leave with a plan and a whole new network of contacts in the industry.
We’ve begun recording and filming Series 3 of the FarmED Podcast and we couldn't be more excited. We have a fantastic lineup of guest speakers joining us and our first episode is scheduled to premiere in March. Stay tuned on our social media for updates. In the meantime, why not catch up on series 2? You can watch and listen to all the episodes here, on Spotify, Apple or your preferred podcast platform.
Garden Treasures: What’s been happening down in the Kitchen Garden?
Abi, Sam and Emma rolling out hay bales in the winter sun
With the unforgiving frosty temperatures making working outside challenging this week, every glimpse of light has been a source of celebration for our bodies and souls. The morning and evening light has cast beautiful wintery shadows on the ground, giving the whole team a sense of hope for the season ahead. It’s easy at this time of year to feel stuck, each day feeling monotonous and the cold days seemingly never ending, which is why it’s crucial to hold onto and cherish these moments of hope. They serve as a reminder to see the beauty in every season.
On Thursday, the kitchen garden team took a field trip to neighbouring farm, Lyneham Heath, to pick up some beautiful compost for the small plot they hold in Chadlington. This is a wonderful example of community in action. Sam (owner of Lyneham Heath) is a frequent volunteer at the kitchen garden, too.
Sam has a small herd of Jersey cows at her farm, and the team had fun rolling out a bale of hay for their breakfast. The cows brought a wonderful sense of peace to the morning and seemed very happy munching away in the winter sun. By feeding the cows in this way (rolling the bale out directly into the field), the cows are able to eat at leisure. It also means the seeds from the flower-rich hay are trampled in, ready to flower in spring.
Our team of volunteers harvesting carrots on a frosty Friday morning
At the Chadlington plot, Dan and Emma grow perennial crops including asparagus and rhubarb. This week, volunteers spread the fresh compost over the asparagus beds, ensuring the soil can get its nutrients ready for spring. They also laid down a thin, biodegradable lining (made from cornstarch) which will smother out the weeds while allowing the asparagus to poke through.
Root vegetables like carrots, beetroots and parsnips are staples at the moment in our weekly harvests, and the veg boxes this week have again been filled with vegetables from our autumn crop stores. It was too frozen to harvest salad from the polytunnels on Friday, but, with the help of good conversation and a strong team spirit, carrots were dug out of the hardened ground ready for the weekly shares.
Recipes of the week:
January can often seem like an unexciting month in the kitchen, as we wait for the abundance of spring. But, with a little creativity, you can make some truly tasty dishes that the whole family will love. Here’s just some you might like to try: