help from the sisterhood
For all box schemes and farm shops the level of imports begin to creep up through May and June. During this hungry gap we bolster our own supplies by working with growers in Italy, Spain and as far afield as Argentina for our fruit. Planning our journey through the hungry gap months is challenging - we try to balance up maximising local product with keeping the boxes varied. Some box schemes actually close down for a couple of months when crops on the farm are in short supply; but we think this probably just forces customers back to the supermarkets whose shelves will be full of almost entirely imported produce anyway.
One of the advantages of being part of a regional network of farms is that we can look to our sister farms for help when we are struggling to fill the boxes with UK produce before turning to imports. Our sister farm, River Nene, is extremely fortunate as it can grow vegetables on roughly 60 acres of Yaxley fen. The dark, warming colour of the fen and the high levels of nutrients held within the soil help their crops to reach harvest about two weeks earlier than those planted in the surrounding land. At this time of year, when we tend to be more reliant on imports, stealing a march on the typical seasons is a real bonus.
The wet garlic, radish and lettuces are the first of River Nene