Tag Archives: pumpkin day

Pumpkin Day 2015 – rain did not stop play!

Every year our legendary pumpkin day is a big event here at Riverford, and this year was no different. Despite a little rain, everyone was wellied-up and in true autumn spirit.

We welcomed over 6000 people across our four farms, along with our new London event which we held at Vauxhall City Farm.
The day saw visitors get involved in pumpkin carving, tractor rides, farm walks, worm digging and much more; alongside the activities was live music, including a fantastic ukulele band, and lots of tasty autumnal food.

“Every year I’m overwhelmed with how much people enjoy Pumpkin Day, there’s always such a buzz on the farm. Thank you to all who came and made this year as special as the last.” said Guy.

This year we opened our poly tunnel on our Devon farm, to show off the fantastic herbs and edible flowers we grow for the Riverford Field Kitchen Restaurant. We also introduced cookery demos, and onion stringing, which were both a huge success. As with every year, we saw some terrific pumpkins carved too!

Have a look through some pictures below:

guy’s newsletter: talking pumpkins & putting people in boxes

A break in the weather this week should let us harvest the last of the carrots and potatoes, and make a start on the parsnips and swedes. In such a warm autumn it seems too early to acknowledge winter by sending you hardy veg, but I remind myself that it is November, and the shortest day is only six weeks away.

Many of you will have pink fir apple potatoes in your boxes this week and I apologise to those who miss out; their late maturity, combined with a susceptibility to blight means they are very hard to grow organically (some say impossible). After too many failures in mild, blight-ridden Devon, we grew them in cooler, drier Yorkshire with our partner Peter Richardson this year. He had a pretty good crop and we will definitely bully him into sowing more in 2015. Shaped more like ginger than a potato, pink fir apples are hard to beat for flavour; they are known mainly as a salad potato though I find them a little dry and prefer them roast. Whatever you do, don’t bother peeling them.

One night, stumbling home under a full moon and other influences in my first year as a grower, I had an out-of-body experience in my pumpkin patch; they glowed like lazy Belisha beacons and spoke to me. I have sown pumpkins ever since but sadly, in my sobriety, have never found them remotely communicative. I soon got fed up with packaging and transport often costing more than I was paid for the crop, so I decided I would rather give them away. Our first Pumpkin Day, designed to raise money for Oxfam, was almost 20 years ago. Last weekend we opened up our farms for the annual event and had an astonishing, terrifying, 6500 visitors; far more than expected. We raised lots of money for the charity Send a Cow but my greatest pride was in seeing the genuinely happy visitors and how amiably a leek puller could transform into a smiling director of parking, how a website manager could carve pumpkins with children or how willingly my slouching skater teenage son would clear tables. We must try harder not to consign people to boxes; most people have so much more potential than their jobs allow them to express. We are not an events company but I reckon we hold pretty good ones; it’s good to break out of our own specialist box now and then.

Guy Watson

guy’s blog: demi-sec borlotti beans & radicchio footballs

On the few occasions I have found fresh borlotti beans (normally in London foodie farmers markets), I have been outraged by their price. Swallowing my farmer’s indignation, I once shelled out for a measly portion of pods and was bowled over by their flavour. Begrudgingly I accepted that foodies can be right, and determined to grow them myself.

Believing our climate borderline appropriate for the crop at best, I tried twice on our farm in France, only to be defeated by birds and Bean Seed Fly. However, slightly annoyingly, we have a fine crop of these fat speckled beans closer to home after all. Grown outdoors in Devon by farming co-op member Andy Hayllor and his accomplice Jeremy, they must be hand picked when half dry (‘demi-sec’) to get them at their best. If fully dry they can be machine harvested at a fraction of the cost, but they never taste as good. Our chefs in The Riverford Field Kitchen restaurant are proclaiming them the best crop of the year. Picking is slow and supplies limited, so they are in just some of the boxes but can be added to your order until frost or a good gale finishes them off. Fantastic in stews, salads, hummus or just boiled with herbs and garlic, and dressed with olive oil.

Every autumn I look forward to radicchio; raw in salads (try the recipe overleaf), grilled, braised or best of all melted into a risotto or pasta sauce. I can’t get enough of these bitter relatives of dandelions and endive, and consequently there are lots of recipes on our website. This year many of the heads are the size of footballs, weighing up to 1.5kg. We will use the smaller ones in the boxes but I’m hoping those who share my passion for their bitter, earthy flavour will order the thumpingly large heads as an extra item. They’ll keep for a month in the fridge and provide many meals for a bargain £1.75.

Riverford pumpkin day – free family day out

Join us at the farm for on Saturday 26th October 11am-4pm. Expect children’s activities, pumpkin carving, chilli stringing and seasonal food. Call us or visit https://www.riverford.co.uk/pumpkinday for details.

Guy Watson

Home farm blog – a northern perspective

As I sit here eating my lunch and reading my partner Guy’s newsletter from deepest Devon, it amazes me that for such a small country, the weather (the biggest influence on farming), can vary so much.

While up here in the North, conditions have been extremely challenging, we seem to have fared far better than our cousins in the South. Yield potential for the potatoes is a slight concern, but the sweetcorn and her various vegetable friends are looking tremendous. Even the pumpkins are looking good, which at one point I had completely written off in my mind.

Indeed, we’ll be celebrating this year’s harvest at Home Farm on Pumpkin Day, Sunday 28th October. Hundreds of pumpkins will be harvested for the event between 11am to 4pm and visitors will have the chance to take part in a pumpkin carving competition. There will also be tractor rides, games, cookery demonstrations and sampling and food stalls. Local folk band, Fiddlyn Man Doris, will also be on hand to provide the entertainment. Entry is free and we hope to see you there!

We were also delighted to hear that our local suppliers, Acorn Dairy and Pierce Bridge have recently won Soil Association awards for their quality food and commitment to organic.

Peter Richardson

Get into the spooky spirit at our Pumpkin Days

pumpkin dayHead down to your nearest Riverford farm this autumn and join us for a spot of good old fashioned fun at our Pumpkin Days. There’ll be plenty to do for children and adults alike. And it’s free!

Activities include choosing your own pumpkin for Halloween, pumpkin carving and vegetable games. When that all gets too much, the kids can settle down to paint spooky pictures in the creativity area and take a tractor ride around the farm to see where we grow the veg for your boxes.

There’s lots for the grown ups too. Green-fingered types can meet the farmers who grow your veg and find out more about

organic farming, and keen cooks will pick up a tip or two in the seasonal cookery demos. And everyone will get a sneaky first taste of our Christmas food.

We’ll serve up plenty of organic food and drink for you to buy, including homemade varieties of pumpkin soup (try one of our all-time favourite pumpkin soup recipes on the opposite page).

So, we hope we’ll see you there. Entry is free and there’s no need to book. All welcome – bring a friend or two!

wash farm pumpkin day
saturday 29th october, 11am-4pm
Riverford on Wash Farm, Devon

sacrewell farm pumpkin day
saturday 29th october
Riverford on Upper Sacrewell Farm, Cambridgeshire

home farm pumpkin day
sunday 30th october, 11am-4pm
Riverford on Home Farm, Yorkshire

norton farm pumpkin day
saturday 29th october, 11am-4pm
Riverford on Upper Norton Farm, Hampshire

kent pumpkin day
saturday 29th october, 11am-4pm
Hartley Lands Farm, Swattenden Lane, Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 3PS

see our events page