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Field Notes - News from the Farm

22nd January - 28th 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.

Field Record: What’s been happening on the 107 acres of Honeydale Farm?

While January has been a naturally quiet month on the farm, we’ve been busy preparing for sunnier (and drier) days ahead. The crops are looking great on our eight-year rotation fields, particularly the heritage wheat and rye crop, ready to flourish come summer. The wild bird seed plot has been successful in attracting flocks of goldfinches, yellow hammers, field fares, linnetts, kites, buzzards and kestrels, and we’ll soon be preparing the field for planting (creating seed beds). Sheep will return to the fields for grazing next month and our agroforestry strips (now in their third year) should begin to thrive. 

In other news, our beautiful willow trees next to the conference barn have been pollarded, an old traditional pruning method (often used in rural France) which involves the removal of the upper branches of a tree. This method promotes the growth of a dense head of foliage and branches.

Cafe Catch-Up: What's new in the cafe?

With this week marking the start of our courses for the new year, our cafe has been bustling with life. 

On Tuesday, we welcomed climate change investment and advisory firm, Pollination Group, for an away day. After settling in and making good use of the conference barn in the morning, they were taken for a farm walk by our Public Engagement Coordinator and earthworm enthusiast, Danielle, before settling down for lunch. They were served a hearty roasted vegetable and black bean fusilli pasta dish, perfect for a cold January day.

Caption: Turkey dahl with pilau rice and homemade chapati

We welcomed both our Pastured Pigs and Poultry groups for lunch on Thursday and Friday. On the menu for the Pastured Poultry group was a turkey and FarmED vegetable dahl, served with pilau rice and homemade chapati. On Friday, the Pastured Pigs group were treated to a nourishing Paddock Farm sausage cassoulet with FarmED veg, beans, creamy mash and braised red cabbage. Paddock Farm, based in Oxfordshire, is home to a herd of 100% pasture-fed Hereford cattle and Tamworth pigs, a flock of free-range chickens and a market garden growing no-dig vegetables. They use regenerative farming techniques, putting the health of their soil first and grazing their animals in a symbiotic relationship with nature. Choosing meat that is produced sustainably and ethically is important to us, so we are proud to support our local community in doing so.

We also have some exciting news for all you tea lovers out there. Our menu has been updated with a new and exciting selection of teas from Devonshire-based Tea’s Me, including Propertea (English Breakfast), Earl Grey, Chai, Sensha Green Tea, Chamomile (pure, whole chamomile flowers), and Kushti Bushtea (caffeine-free red bush). ‘Tea’s Me’ source their teas through The Ethical Tea Partnership, which guarantees workers are treated fairly, local communities are supported, and fair prices are paid. They are also committed to sustainability, repurposing cardboard boxes from the community for shipping and choosing 100% plastic-free packaging for their products, something which is important to us. Why not pop in and test them out?

Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?

We had a successful two days hosting our Pastured Poultry and Pastured Pigs courses last week, hearing from a variety of expert speakers from farms across the UK. Both courses were sold out, meaning the conference barn was filled to capacity with a wide range of passionate people, all at different stages of both their pig and poultry journeys. Guests were able to relate to each other and forge connections, sharing tried and tested tips as well as challenges they’ve had along the way.

Caption: Our Agricultural Lead, Kate Henderson presenting to the Pastured Poultry group

We had some excellent feedback from both courses, with some people booking onto both. Here is just one review we received:

“An incredible experience that has influenced me greatly and will stay with me for a long time. Thank you to everyone involved. Such a great group of inspiring people.”

On the Pastured Poultry course, we heard from Amy Chapple from Redwoods Farm, George Ford from Nempnett Pastures and Mike Mallett from Maple Farm Kelsale. They spoke enthusiastically about a variety of different topics, from which breeds of turkey are the best to buy to how grazing poultry can benefit your soil. 

On Pastured Pigs, we were lucky enough to hear from Helen Wade from Eastleach Downs Organic Farm, Flavian Obiero from Tynefield Farm and Amy Chapple from Redwoods Farm. Helen and her husband Sam have have 87 years of pig farming between them, whereas Flavian and Amy are relatively early on in their journeys. They again spoke on a range of inspiring topics, including raising pigs soya-free, integrating pigs into your farm systemand how to market your business successfully. 

Amy, Flavian and Helen all recorded episodes for the next series of the FarmED Podcast so if you were unable to attend the courses but want to hear more about Pastured Pigs and Poultry, you’ll be able to catch these episodes when we launch Series 3 in March.

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

After Storm Isha scuppered last week's plans, this week has seen the weather warm as we edge nearer to February. On Monday, we un-fleeced the salad in the polytunnels, allowing fresh air to ventilate. This means that with no threat of frost (just yet), our mix of leaves are back on the menu. 

Caption: One of our regular volunteers counting out leeks for Friday’s shares 

On Thursday, our wonderful team of volunteers helped to pull leeks out of the ground ready for Friday’s harvest - our preferred method of an upper body workout (who needs the gym when you have gardening?). We also dug out the foundations for our brand new compost toilet, creating a base for the structure to live on by levelling out the earth. Soon, we’ll have our very own ‘rustic’ facilities closer to where all the work gets done (birdsong included!). 

Caption: A local homeschooling group learning about all things earthworms

Head-grower Dan brought his homeschooling group along to the farm last week, for a walk around our fields and a talk about all things earthworms. Our Public Engagement Officer, Danielle, helped the group of 6-12 year olds identify different types of worms (epigeic, endogeic and anecic) in the layers of soil on our herbal ley plots, as well as conduct some all-important worm counts. Learning from nature is something we believe is incredibly important, not only for understanding more about the earth that we live on, but also for keeping children (and adults) curious about the world.


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