2013

Friday 26th July 2013

After the hottest weather since 1976, it’s now pouring and the relief is palpable as the thirsty soil sucks in the welcome rain. We have a huge lake that fills up through the winter here on our farm in France, and we’ve been busy pumping, piping and spraying from it... continued

Tuesday 23rd July 2013

As a soulful four-year-old, I spent a lot of time stomping behind the plough collecting the, “big fat squidgy ones” left wriggling on the inverted furrows. I probably should have been at playgroup developing social skills, but when my mum did send me I stole the tricycle and was found... continued

Friday 12th July 2013

Never have I heard such buzzing as I encountered cycling to work this morning. Stopping to investigate the din, I found myself under an avenue of lime trees in full blossom. Each tree was alive with what must have been hundreds of thousands of industrious bees harvesting the nectar for... continued

Thursday 4th July 2013

The boxes are looking fantastic and we have finally banished most of the veg imports; hooray. There has been plenty of sunshine and just enough rain but, for the most part, it has been cool. The resulting steady, stress free, unforced growth is producing great flavour. We are hectically busy... continued

Tuesday 2nd July 2013

After two long winters, separated by the farming disaster that was last summer, followed by a late spring, it is hard to remember what abundance feels like. Many growers felt forsaken, with a mounting suspicion that they would never see a full and healthy crop again. To walk the farm... continued

Tuesday 2nd July 2013

As the English asparagus season started in late April, I asked how you felt about us preceding it with Spanish asparagus from Pepe, a grower near Granada who we have worked with for many years. The results were two to one in favour. Our mission is to enable and encourage... continued

Friday 21st June 2013

As the lettuce and spinach season starts in Devon, we are clearing up the last stragglers on our farm in France and are busy harvesting cabbage, kohl rabi and the first courgettes. When the first female courgette flowers opened two weeks ago there was not enough pollen about (weirdly the... continued

Friday 21st June 2013

I have been brought to my knees by potato blight, hail storms, supermarket buyers and drought, but none of that prepared me for the last two months of website hell. As we have matured we have become calmer and more philosophical about coping with the uncontrollable, but the last few... continued

Friday 21st June 2013

Our onions were planted in good conditions in March and have emerged strongly. Onions are poor competitors and never make a full canopy, so controlling weeds is always a challenge. Last week, with the first leaves reaching about three inches, we passed over the crop with a giant tractor-mounted gas... continued

Friday 21st June 2013

There was a time last month when I started to wonder if we would ever experience summer again. Under the prevailing gloom and continuing deluge, accompanied by an almost eerie absence of birdsong and insects, one could easily lose faith in the perpetual return of life to our fields. Without... continued

Friday 24th May 2013

A cool May has restrained the flowering urges of our purple sprouting broccoli, leeks and cauliflower, giving us the bonus of an extra two to three weeks picking. With the barns empty and the last of 2012’s crops ploughed over, we can finally say our annus horribilis is over. Hurrah!... continued

Friday 10th May 2013

As we continue to struggle with our new website, I have run off to France to bury my head in chilli plants and pretend it is not happening. It’s getting pretty tedious for all concerned: you, our customers, our local vegmen and ladies who deliver your boxes, our customer service... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

Donald Rumsfeld called them ‘unknown unknowns’; the risks that you didn’t even consider. I contemplate this as I walk round my farm in the French Vendée and ponder three years of mistakes and learning. There are no weapons of mass destruction lurking in the bushes, but we have had hail... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

On our French farm in the Vendée we are busy removing the covers and cloches from the lettuce, spinach and turnips as fast as we dare. They are growing lush in the sun, out of the cold easterly wind, and are almost too far ahead of the UK. It can... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

It feels good to see some crops in the ground. A spell of dry, cold weather at the beginning of the month allowed us to create perfect seed beds for planting cabbage, lettuce, spinach, beetroot, kohl rabi, carrots and potatoes. The soil was perfect, but the air frigid, so the... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

The European Food Safety Authority has labelled three neonicotinoid insecticides as ‘an unacceptable danger to bees’. Our own all-party Environmental Audit Committee has called for a moratorium on their use on plants that attract bees, but the UK and Germany are still resisting calls from the rest of Europe for... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

Please, please send us back those empty boxes. We are even keener to get them back right now, before we move onto our revamped box range in June, making it hard to reuse any old boxes lurking in the back of your garage. Please leave out any boxes for your... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

The winters of my childhood were dominated by muck. 200 cows produce a lot of it and the dung pit always seemed to be spilling out into the yard, making shifting it a constant challenge. It might not sound idyllic but I enjoyed it, apart from the pig muck (that... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

The cows were turned out yesterday. It was a gloriously warm, bright spring morning and after four months inside eating silage they were certainly happy to taste fresh grass again and feel the turf under their feet. As the yard gates opened, they briefly hesitated as if in disbelief, then... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

Over half of you grow some of your own veg. Unfortunately, given our climatic limitations, you tend to grow the same crops as us. A few of you have even credited us with inspiring you to get the spade out. As a result, our deliveries can drop off in the... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

We have cabbage plants ready and waiting for a break in the weather, with lettuce due next week. The ground is too wet and with the outlook unsettled we must be patient and be sure to take our chances when they come. Purple sprouting broccoli is finally getting going in... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

As I write, our root harvesters are edging across some of our better drained ground, lifting parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes. High pressure has brought a week of sunshine and drying easterlies. By the time this arrives with you, I am hopeful heavier fields will have drained enough to allow us to lift the potatoes and beetroot that have been trapped... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

About five years ago we took the decision not to sell crops grown under heated glass. Burning fossil fuels to maintain a temperature of 20°C inside a single glazed greenhouse in the depths of winter is environmental insanity. According to our work with Exeter University, even after accounting for transport, it is ten to twenty times less damaging to import... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

15 years ago I took the government to the High Court in London to challenge the legality of some GM maize trials bordering our farm in Devon. Encouraged by my father and a group of Totnes radicals, I read a stack of scientific papers and felt sufficiently concerned to accept support from Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

Personally, I don’t have a problem with eating horse. It might make perfect sense to eat a fallen racehorse or a Dartmoor pony at the end of its life. Even a Romanian cart horse might be OK in a stew, but I would rather make that choice myself, with some idea of how it had got to my plate and... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

Happy New Year. I trust you are well rested, well fed and full of intentions to cook and eat you way to heath in 2013. My festivities were slightly marred by piles of decaying Christmas cards; it was another one of my hair-brained schemes and it went disastrously wrong. In... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

As I write, the sun is out, the pressure is building and there is a faint hope of some settled weather. Already the days are starting to draw out and there is a sense of renewal. I can almost hear the earthworms gasp as some air gets back into the... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

This is coming from France where the soil is ‘full to the throat’ and has been since June - it has almost been as wet as in Devon. In response we have our brand new, two acre, large football pitch sized tunnel which is already planted with 40,000 lettuces plus... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

There have been suggestions in the media that the very wet, dull weather in 2012 has reduced the nutritional value, flavour and yields of vegetables. Some have postulated that organic crops, un-bolstered by agrochemicals, might be more severely affected. When rainfall exceeds the sum of moisture lost through evaporation (from... continued

Friday 26th April 2013

After a brief interlude at the beginning of the month, Devon is back to its familiar sogginess. The autumn-sown broad beans, protected from local crows by crop covers, look happy enough, but the rest of the farm is drab and washed out. Whenever I enquire about leeks, kale, purple sprouting... continued