Guy’s Newsletter: when I grow up

Taken as a whole, 2015 has treated us well. A bright and dry, if cool, spring allowed us to plant in good conditions, and though crops were slow to get away in the cold, all was well as we entered summer. The persistent dampness of late summer brought a spate of fungal disease, but the wonderfully bright and dry September and October were a gift to all farmers, allowing perfect ripening and harvesting conditions and a late rally in many crops. Since then it has been relentlessly grim in the fields with barely a few hours of brightness and no chance of harvesting the last carrots, but that is pretty much what we expect.

Good farmers make the most of their chances; bad farmers make the most of their excuses. To be in the former group you must grow the right crops on the right soils in the right climate and be ready to make the most of the opportunities the weather presents. After years of pig-headedly fighting with our heavier Devon soils and damp climate, we now focus on the crops that do well here; brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, swede and kale, plus salads, potatoes and leeks. The onions, Brussels sprouts and parsnips have moved to lighter soils in the drier east; it flies in the face of ‘local food’ but reduces risk and the wasted work and energy expended on failed or half crops. I strongly suspect it makes better environmental sense as well.

I reckon the attendance and mood of work Christmas parties is as good an indication of an organisation’s health as the accounts. We’ve had our ups and downs; the low was in the late ‘90s, when I spent a week cooking, rented a river boat and band, only for 10% of staff to show up. I tried in vain to console myself by drinking the booze; the hangover was bad, but not as bad as the year that followed. By contrast, I reckon last weekend’s raucous affair, themed ‘what I want to be when I grow up’, was our best yet; we seem to have come of age without getting boring so I feel confident we will rise to the inevitable challenges ahead. When I was growing up I could hardly have wished for more.

Guy Watson

2 responses to “Guy’s Newsletter: when I grow up

  1. Dear Guy
    When I was growing up in the 50’s and early 60’s in a small village in north Essex, we ate the vegetables that were available from the surrounding farms. We had Uncle Ben the pig-man who would turn up every week to collect the week’s vegetable peelings and any other waste food to feed to his pigs. I might add there wasn’t very much wasted food in our house, but as I grew up and went on to shop for food in the ubiquitous supermarkets I thought my taste buds must be failing me as the taste I remembered as a child just wasn’t there. I worked on the farms spud-picking and other seasonal jobs as a teenager so I am well aware of the problems you must encounter and I am so grateful that you do what you do.I am so glad I found your site and am able to get decent vegetables. Your veg pasties are especially enjoyed by myself and my husband. The pastry is so tasty! I hope you will keep up the venture and are passing on all your valuable knowledge to the youngsters around you, as never has your work been so important. We send the season’s greetings and success for the New year.
    Thank you,
    Mr & Mrs Ashley.

  2. Thank you so much Mrs Ashley, that means a lot! We hope you and your husband have a wonderful Christmas.

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