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Field Notes - News from the Farm

19th February - 25th 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.

Events Recap: What's on at FarmED?

Lunchtime Talk: The FarmED Story

Guests listening to 'The FarmED Story' in our cosy library

Last week, we welcomed 12 people for the second Lunchtime Talk in our new series. Ian Wilkinson, co-founder of FarmED, told the fascinating story of the farm so far, from what it looked like before we arrived to our grand plans for the future. Guests who had perhaps only been to the farm before for coffee and cake, learnt how we are quickly becoming one of the leading centres for education in the agricultural and climate change space. Ian then explained how we’ve grown our bird population from 44 different species to 89, as well as how we’ve expanded our team from 2 to over 30. Guests then joined Ian for a nourishing lunch in our Cafe, where they got to taste the produce grown on the farm itself. 

Missed out on this talk? Take a look at our ‘What’s On’ page to see what talks are coming up next, or join one of our Friday Farm Walks to learn about the FarmED story for yourself. You’ll hear from either Ian or an experienced member of the FarmED team, before being led on a guided walk around the beautiful farm: the meadows, heritage orchard, kitchen garden, pond and other areas. These walks take place every Friday, so you’re sure to find a date which suits you.

Rural Mental Health

Important group discussions on our Rural Mental Health course

Following on from ‘Mind Your Head’ week, dedicated to raising awareness about mental health in the agricultural sector, we ran a course last week in conjunction with The Farming Community Network (FCN) titled ‘Rural Mental Health: Know the Signs, Make a Difference’. The course saw attendees from a range of professions, working or living in the rural area, and everyone left with the vital knowledge of how to recognise the early signs, how to manage difficult conversations, and how to help those struggling with their mental health. With 92% of farmers under 40 believing that poor mental health is the biggest hidden problem they face, this course couldn’t have come at a more prominent time. 

Interested in signing up yourself? Visit the FCN website to find more about the initiative by clicking here.

Carterton Primary School Farm Walk

On Thursday, we welcomed a group of 25 children from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary school for a farm walk. Led by our brilliant public engagement officer, Danielle, the group of curious-minded Year 5-6’s discussed everything from earthworms to healthy soils. Danielle was impressed with the children’s knowledge and eagerness to learn, as they asked lots of interesting questions along the way. They got to meet our chickens, cows and resident earthworms up close and even performed a water pollution test in our pond, checking for phosphate levels. The morning was, all-in-all, delightful and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. 

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

This week, our Cafe has been bustling as usual and we’ve even found inspiration from the Middle East for our newest Dish of the Day: an oven-fired flatbread filled with homemade falafel, couscous, slaw and harissa mayo. It was a big hit with our course and Cafe guests and we're confident it will make a comeback on the menu, so keep your eyes peeled…

We also have some good news for all coffee lovers: our beloved Bird & Wild coffee is now available to buy! Bird & Wild’s coffee is ethically sourced and grown in the shade of the rainforest canopy in agroforestry systems. In this way, they create a haven for birds and wildlife and support the health of our planet, with 6% of their sales being donated to RSPB. We’re very proud to support a small-scale business whose values align with ours, and now, you can support them too!

Get the FarmED experience from home!

Don’t forget, we recently launched FarmED breakfasts, too, featuring a delightful range of dishes from a veggie seasonal frittata to pancakes with fresh berries and yogurt. Our breakfasts are served from 9am-11am every day, so why not pop down this week to try them out for yourself?

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

In spite of the rain and wind, the Kitchen Garden team managed to spread some sunshine to their customers this week by harvesting daffodils for the veg boxes. Daffodils are a sure sign of Spring and are a lovely way of adding a little happiness to any household. The team had fun picking them on Friday and we all took a moment to admire their bright joyful colours.

A crate full of sunshine

Friday also saw the team harvesting Thousand Head Kale for the weekly shares. This mammoth-sized kale gets its nickname not only from its multiple branches but also the size of its leaves - which can grow up to 3ft long. It can be used just like regular kale and makes a delicious side to any dish! 

The rest of the week mainly saw Eddie, Emma and Dan getting ahead on inside jobs as they sheltered from the rain: sowing the seeds for this year’s leeks, erecting a brand new polytunnel, and filling sandbags to hold everything down in the wind. Even now, we’re still harvesting leeks from last year's crop, highlighting their impressively lengthy life cycle. As you buy leeks from a local market, take time to appreciate just how much effort has gone into getting it to you that day - a whole year’s worth! When the new leeks get to around pencil thickness, they’re transplanted into the fields. We give them a head-start in the polytunnels to protect them from the frost, wind and rain in their early stages.

On Thursday, the team travelled to their sister site in Chadlington on Thursday to check on the asparagus. They fed the beds with nutritious compost and protected them with a layer of mypex mesh. A fun and productive week overall, although admittedly, the whole team are looking forward to sunnier days ahead…

Head-grower Dan at his happiest amongst the kale!

Egg-citing news...

Peter's chickens clucking away happily amongst the daffodils

Our eggs from 12-year-old Peter Notman (@lyneham_colouredeggs) are still available to buy every Friday from our packing shed, and his green egg layer, Olive, is back in action after a winter rest. Your box is sure to be a variety of colours once again! Peter’s eggs cost only £2 for six and we can vouch for them being some of the best tasting we’ve ever had. Pop down this Friday and snap some up in time for your weekend brunch…


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