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 on our demonstration farm, the farm to fork Cafe and the Conference Barn, where people meet to find out more about regenerative agriculture. Come with us on a one-of-a-kind journey and learn more.
Something to Celebrate
We are celebrating something special this week - FarmED has been named as a winner in the prestigious Ashden Awards for climate innovation. We won the Award for Future Farmers for our work in demonstrating regenerative agriculture. The announcement was made at a global celebration in London on Tuesday 14 November, attended by members of the FarmED team. We are so proud of each and every member of our wonderful team, our funders and supporters, for helping us to achieve this important accolade. A full review of the Award’s evening and more information will be in next week’s blog!
Cafe Catch-up: What’s new in the cafe this week?
We're moving deeper into November and it's getting colder outside. The cafe has been busy as ever, providing a warm space to escape from the winter chill. On Monday, we welcomed our monthly guest band, D’Accord, a talented trio from Oxfordshire made up of an accordion, a guitar and a double bass. They serenaded us with a delightful selection of music over lunchtime, and, as ever, drew quite a crowd. Our very own man-of-all-talents, Kieron, even joined them for some soulful singing which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.The next time the trio will perform will be 11th December; why not gather up your friends and book a table for lunch? It will be their last performance of 2023 here at FarmED so it’s certainly not one to miss.
Check out our autumnal display as you enter the cafe
This week also took our wonderful cook Sharon to the Tap Social Movement in Botley to represent FarmED at Good Food Oxfordshire (GFO)’s annual celebration. The evening was a huge success and guests were left feeling full of inspiration, good conversation and delicious food (provided by community interest company Waste2Taste). This year’s focus was on GFO’s pilot initiative to bring together local producers of sustainable food with Oxfordshire’s best restaurants and cafes. The panel consisted of three individuals in the sustainability space, all passionate about finding ways to make well-produced food more accessible. This is something we feel strongly about at FarmED and is an approach that we continue to live by.
Closer to home in our own cafe, our seasonal celeriac soup has been a firm favourite with our customers, as well as our new limited-edition sandwich - chestnut pâté and crispy onions on toasted brioche. We have also created a ‘Hot Dish of the Day’ which will be updated weekly, so stay tuned!
Field Record: What’s been happening across our 107 acres?
This week, we welcomed environmentalist and University of Oxford PHD student, Jed, back to the farm, who is conducting research at FarmED in partnership with the Oxford Ecosystem Lab. Jed’s overarching research focuses on rewilding the UK countryside through regenerative agriculture, so he has been using FarmED as a research site. Back in March, Jed installed his experiment, which will measure the carbon released by regenerative arable rotation fields compared to our control plot. Jed has also recently been employed by Cotswolds Seed, our partnership business, as part of their CHC X3 project (Centre for High Carbon Capture Cropping). This exciting project will test the effect of different cultivation and crop production systems on the environment, ultimately helping to enhance carbon capture and develop new carbon offsetting platforms.
Jed setting up his test equipment in one of our eight-year rotation fields
The team has also been busy this week installing three brand new compost bins to collect waste from our kitchen, cafe and office. We’ve been lucky enough to receive funding from the Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programme from Cotswold National Landscapes, in order to help us in our mission to move towards operating an 100% circular food waste system. Currently, our kitchen and cafe generates a minimum of 50kg of food waste per week, with only 15% being composted. The installation of our new compost bins will help us to improve this and move towards our ultimate goal of closing the loop.
The compost produced by the tumblers will be spread onto our arable fields, agroforestry strips and market garden. This will not only reduce the need for bought-in fertilisers or compost, but will also increase the fertility of our soil, reduce emissions produced in landfill and increase carbon sequestration. All of these benefits will ultimately help us to produce nutrient dense food, feeding both the people and the planet. We’re excited to see where this project will take us - so watch this space!
Teamwork makes the dreamwork! (From l to r) Sophie, Jade and Danielle installing the new compost tumblers.
Garden Treasures: What’s new in the Kitchen Garden?
This week the Kitchen Garden has been a flurry of activity. Despite the downpours and gusty winds, the team has been busy harvesting vegetables, sowing for the following season, celebrating a very special birthday and even chasing bunnies…
Muddy business: Volunteers from MidCounties Coop hard at work in the Kitchen Garden
On Thursday, the team was joined by six volunteers from Midcounties Coop as they harvested carrots (over 120 kilos of them) and replanted strawberry runners ready for summer. The Midcounties Coop funded the Kitchen Garden polytunnel a few years ago as part of their initiative to grow local food, so it was special to welcome them back. In the afternoon, Abi, Eddie, and Dan worked hard to spruce up the polytunnels. They employed a stretch of horticultural mesh and two people on either side, pulling it back and forth over the tunnel. By the end of the day their hard work had paid off and the tunnel was sparkling. Who needs a gym session when you can have an arm day like this?
The team also chased a rabbit out of the field in the afternoon as it was spotted trying to munch the crops…all in a day’s work!
Friday saw the team harvesting these beautiful savoy cabbages and we celebrated our head grower Dan’s birthday. After a morning of hard graft he enjoyed a celebratory IPA from Chadlington Brewery from the FarmED cafe and some delicious pizza fresh out of the wood-fired oven.
Picture perfect! Our savoy cabbages were star of the show on harvest day
In other news, we are proud to present…local eggs for sale! 12-year old Peter Notman, based in Lyneham, will be selling his beautiful eggs alongside our veg boxes on Fridays. He has carefully chosen each of his hens to lay a range of mixed coloured eggs, and they taste as delicious as they look. You can pick up a box from the packing shed every Friday, priced at £2 for six, but be sure to get in there early as they have been selling out very quickly!
Meet the hens behind these beauties and follow Lyneham Coloured Eggs on Instagram: @lyneham_colouredeggs
A space where we celebrate our bountiful library of literature and tell you what we’ve been loving this week.
Our recommendation this week is ‘Food Fix’ by bestselling author Mark Hyman. He explores how we can create healthy, ethical and economically sustainable food systems that heal both our bodies and the planet. Starting by laying out the current crises we are facing: the spread of obesity and food-related diseases, worldwide poverty, climate change and educational gaps, he then goes on to provide solutions. He leaves us with the feeling that we can create a healthier world through reforming the way we think about and consume our food. You can borrow ‘Food Fix’ from our library - just head to the cafe and the team will cross it off our list.