Our regional farms around the UK (and one in France) are our way of growing fruit and veg as close to your home as practical.
Guy Watson, Wash Farm, Devon
Three years ago we decided to phase out our use of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from heated glasshouses, however local. Maintaining 20˚C in single-glazed glasshouses in frosty January is completely insane, making these easily the most environmentally damaging crops we sold. After a year of haggling with local planners, we’re now building sophisticated plastic-skinned greenhouses, which will grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer and salad leaves in the winter without heat. When they are in production we will have the best tasting, lowest impact salads money can buy.
Nigel Venni, Sacrewell Farm, Cambridgeshire
Nigel and his team have been hit by a bit of a mystery – almost six acres of our swedes have vanished. In mid-July the young plants were looking good, but soon almost the whole lot had gone, over 400,000 plants. We now think the culprit is ‘cutworm’ – caterpillars of the turnip moth and garden dart moth. They feast upon roots and stems, felling tender seedlings at the base, which then shrivel and leave nothing but bare soil. Fortunately, to balance things out, we’ve had a really successful broad bean season and our 8 acres of leeks and 30 acres of red and brown onions are looking very strong.
Peter + Jo-ann Richardson, Home Farm, North Yorkshire
Peter’s summer has gone well, with parsnips, leeks and Savoy cabbages looking very healthy for the boxes later in the year. Squash and pumpkins are also coming along nicely, just in time for Pumpkin Day. This year, Peter has avoided planting cauliflower or purple sprouting broccoli however. The last two harsh winters have lost him these crops, so he’s had to make a pragmatic decision. Fingers crossed for next time.
Chris Wakefield, Upper Norton Farm, Hampshire
Recently Chris and his team have been harvesting yellow ramiro peppers, also known as banana peppers, from the polytunnels. They don’t taste of banana, but if you have any fussy kids, they may help you in convincing them to try something new! Meanwhile, for the first time we have Hampshire dried garlic from our grower Mike Fisher. Normally our climate makes drying garlic problematic, but Mike is particularly pleased with the results, and we’d love to have any feedback.
Le Boutinard, France
The year started well with good crops of lettuce, spinach, fennel, chard and French beans filling the boxes through our ‘hungry gap’ at home, plus early sweetcorn and green peppers. However the normally sunny July delivered 80mm rain and with the high humidity, mildew swept through the melons. The heavily laden pepper plants look fantastic, but as the fruits start to turn red they are also developing rots. It is not all bad though; we have a small field of chillies which are coming along wonderfully, ready to add fire to all sorts of dishes.