riverford field kitchen; cutting the tape

After a ten year gestation period, our on farm restaurant will have its official opening on 26th May. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be cutting the tape. I love his cheerful, celebratory and bold approach to growing, preparing and enjoying food so I am delighted that he will be doing the honours. He used to be a customer until moving to River Cottage and doing his own growing.

From the 26th May the Field Kitchen will be open most days through to the autumn for lunch, tea and supper combined with a self-guided walk or tractor and trailer tour. Though booking is essential (due to our planning consent and in case we are full, have a school group or just need a day off) the more spontaneous are welcome to ring (01803 762074) on the day and we will fit you in if we can. You can also get details of seasonal activities and book through our website, www.riverford.co.uk.

Dodging the downpours

Just as the soil is dry enough to get out and start work again another depression rushes in off the Atlantic and dumps its load on us. We are getting a bit behind with planting and sowing but the worst problem is the weeds, which are really getting out of control. The first spinach and lettuce are about two weeks from harvest but are in danger of disappearing under a blanket of chickweed. Hoeing in the wet is very hard work with mud sticking to the hoe and boots. It is also fairly futile as most of the weeds will just re-root in their new position. At least all the rain has now filled our two new irrigation reservoirs. If you are a believer in folk law the Oak is out well before the ash so we should be in for a splash (as opposed to ash before oak, in for a soak), so we may need them.

Dodgy oranges

Since Christmas almost half of our customer complaints have been about oranges. Some of them have been fairly dreadful (the oranges, not the complaints) and I would not want any one to think that we have been satisfied with what we have been sending out. The problem has been caused by the coldest winter in living memory in the Western Mediterranean. On some farms in Andalucia every orange tree has been killed. It would seem that much of the fruit was frozen on the trees leading to dry and nasty oranges as they ripened. Though I sympathise with the growers we have spent the last three months searching for something better. The last two weeks have been better and I think we are out of the problem.

Guy Watson