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Field Notes - News from the Farm

12th February - 18th February


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?


This past week, the farm has become even more alive with the promise of Spring, the sun’s warmth growing stronger with each passing day. Daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops are beginning to cover the verges and there’s a real sense of hope in the air. Like many, we’re looking forward to March and all the abundance it will bring. 


Chicken Run!


Some of you may be familiar with our cherished farm chickens, often seen clucking away in their patch near the conference barn. This week, however, they’ve been on a bit of an adventure. As part of our ‘Egg-row forestry’ project, they have now been moved (along with their hen house) up to our agroforestry strips, between the fields in the eight year rotation. By integrating them into the farming system, our chickens will have a symbiotic relationship with the land. Their muck will provide organic nutrients for the soil, helping our trees to grow, and they’ll also save us the job of weeding by grazing on the self seeded chicory. Chicory is rich in various vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy addition to a chicken’s diet, and the hope is that the trees will also eventually provide the chickens with protection from weather and predators: a win-win situation for everyone involved. 


Just your average science lab in a cow shed!


Our resident scientist and PhD student Jed, has recently set up a makeshift lab in our barn, keeping the cows company while he performs his testing. Along with a colleague, he’s undertaking a soil energetics study to collect mesofauna (fauna that's bigger than fungi and bacteria but smaller than the earthworms, beetles and spiders). As Jed explains, “The idea is that we should see the difference between regenerative arable rotations and conventional farming and understand specifically what organisms are there, in what abundance and whether or not regenerative rotations are the way forward for nature recovery". We’re excited to hear more about the results of his study soon! 


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


Last week was half term, and it was great to see faces new and old coming through the Cafe doors. Young children on their holidays enjoyed a treat from the cake counter and took a stroll round the farm. You can pick up a map from the counter anytime to venture on your own self-guided farm walk, or simply follow the QR codes dotted around the site. 


In anticipation of Spring, we’ve added vases of beautiful daffodils and tulips to our tables, creating a lovely atmosphere in the Cafe.


Just a few of Judith's beautiful artworks we have available


Have you ever stopped to admire our greeting cards? Hand-illustrated by Judith Yarrow, these beautiful cards depict the wildflowers planted throughout the year at FarmED to attract wildlife. Each card is labelled with the plants of each season, making them that little bit more meaningful. They would make a lovely gift for somebody, or for yourself!


Events Recap: What’s on at FarmED?


Last week marked the launch of our new series of Lunchtime Talks. We welcomed 24 guests to our Library, as they heard from Pete Russell, founder of online platform ‘Ooooby’. The talk was titled ‘Gate to Plate’, and Pete spoke about how we can support small-scale farmers and producers through our food choices. Ooooby has a variety of food hubs dotted around the UK, whereby local farmers and growers can deliver food to up to 10,000 households. The days of stressful supermarket shopping may soon be over…


There were lots of interesting questions from the audience and the talk was topped off by a delicious lunch from the FarmED Cafe. All in all, we couldn’t think of a more successful way to kick-start our series. 


Our guests enjoying an interesting and knowledgable talk from OOOOBY


Take a look at our ‘What’s On’ page to see what talks are coming up next.


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


This week, we sadly said goodbye to our intern, Abi, until May. She is headed to two market gardens, one in Cornwall and the other in North Wales, for her placement. We wish her all the best on her journey and look forward to welcoming her back!


Happy faces helping to harvest our salad from the polytunnels


Before she set off, Abi, along with a host of volunteers, harvested a whopping 100kg of carrots ready for our Friday veg boxes. As it was half term, we had some young faces join us for our volunteer days and it was wonderful to see everyone get stuck in. Thursday gave everyone a chance to indulge in a free "mud bath” too - who needs an expensive spa day anyway?


Half term fun: volunteers getting stuck in during the carrot harvest!


FarmED Reads: Book Club Launch!


Join our book club to get chatting with like minded people who love books!


Excitingly, we now have a date for our first book club meeting at FarmED! It will be held on Tuesday 19th March at 11am - 12.30pm, so mark your diaries. We’ll be discussing Helen Rebanks’ The Farmer’s Wife, which is out in paperback next week. Local bookshop Jaffe & Neale in Chipping Norton are partnering with us to offer a discount to FarmED Book Club members. Just pop into the store and show the email you were sent or inclusion in the Facebook group as proof of your membership and save some pennies!


We have also set up a Facebook page for our book club members, so, if you’re interested, please click the link to join here. We’ll post information and discussion points for each book, and you’ll also be able to submit your own comments or questions. 


We look forward to seeing you on 19th March and chatting to you on Facebook! 


Recipe of the Week: FarmED Veg and Coconut Soup!


Our delicious soup to help keep you warm on these blustery 'Spring' days!


Ingredients:

  • Half a medium sized FED Crown Prince squash

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • 5 sticks celery, roughly chopped

  • 1 medium leek, roughly chopped

  • Sunflower oil 

  • Approx 1 ltr of vegetable stock

  • 2 cans of coconut milk

  • Salt and black pepper 


Method:

  • Roast the squash in the oven at 220°c on a tray until soft to touch for 1 hour and 15 mins.

  • Leave to cool.

  • In a large pan, fry all your chopped vegetables gently (without browning) on a low heat

  • Meanwhile, deseed and skin your squash, chop roughly and add to your pan of vegetables.

  • Open your cans of coconut milk and empty into your pan too.

  • Cover with stock and simmer for 1 hour. Then leave to cool. 

  • Liquidise your soup until silky smooth and the consistency of double cream.

  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. You may need to add more stock to achieve your required consistency at this stage. 


Tip: For alternative additional delicious flavours you could add a tablespoon of mild curry spices when you fry your vegetables or add half a tablespoon of Thai red curry paste or harissa for you spicey lovers out there!

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