have a merry christmas and a happy new year....

Sprout harvesters will have been rumbling across the fens night and day for the last fortnight, gobbling up rows of perfect sprouts, stripping them from the stalks, passing them through a cyclone, which sucks off the debris before allowing the tight little buds to feed into a hopper. Unfortunately such perfection requires the help of a barrage of sprays and after the unchecked ravages of cabbage root fly, slugs, aphids and disease, the only way we can get acceptable sprouts is to pick them selectively, discarding the bad ones as we go.

Our Brussels sprouts are grown and hand picked by Anthony and Mary Coker. Sprouts are one of the most difficult to crops to grow organically and are one of the very few that I ask you to accept different cosmetic standards to those you would expect from a sprayed crop. We have saved the best of the crop for this week so that they can be left on the stalk.

Last Saturday we went back to the barn where the business started 18 years ago for our Christmas party. My first recollection of the barn is collecting eggs with my mother, later the chickens (never a successful enterprise) gave way to cream teas served to tourists visiting the farm in the 70's. That was more profitable but far too stressful, so next it was a potter's studio before housing my potatoes, grader and first office in the 80's. In the late 80's when the rave culture was outraging anyone too old to enjoy it, and as the criminal justice bill went through Parliment, we allowed some friends to hold a Halloween party. It got a bit out of hand with the local constabulary setting up road blocks and subsequently threatening us with a