muck, meat + pineapples

February is a great month for spreading muck. Any earlier and there is a danger of winter rain leaching nutrients beyond the reach of plant roots. Any later and the nutrients will not be available to encourage the first spring growth. With plenty of dry and frosty weather allowing the laden spreaders to travel, the farm has been pretty smelly for the last few weeks. Away from the steaming manure it is still bitterly cold and consequently we continue to be desperately short of greens. Rest assured; we keep the greens and the muck well apart.

Two years ago I made a trip to Togo with Henri, a French friend, social entrepreneur and founder of Pro Natura. His hugely ambitious project was to technically support 350 small, organic, fair trade pineapple growers and link them with the European market. Some of the fields are the size of a tennis court and two kilometres walk from the nearest dirt road. The logistics and coordination needed to plan, grow, collect, grade, pack and ship those fruit to a hugely demanding western market in consistently good condition was always going to be challenging. Given the potential pitfalls, I was worried about raising expectations and we have indeed had some quality problems over the last two years, but things have got better, culminating in some wonderful fruit before Christmas. Encouraged by this we have three containers of pineapples arriving from Togo over the next two months; they will be in the fruit boxes and, we hope, available on the extras list. There is an audio slide show covering my trip on our website here. With this project the reward of success is that farmers can afford basic health care and education for their children. I hope the pineapples taste even better for that.

For those of you who like a little meat with your veg and have previously found our meatboxes more than your fridge/freezer/wallet can bite off in one go, we have introduced the ‘quick and easy’ meatbox at £29.95. It’s filled with simple cuts to make quick weeknight meals (typical contents include pork sausages, beef mince, diced stewing beef, pork spare rib steaks and lamb shoulder steaks). You might like to add a roasting joint for the weekend. You can find out more on the website.

Guy Watson from Riverford in Devon