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And in this month's edition, read on to find out why we have made the difficult decision to cancel Emma's bread, check arrangements for Bank Holiday Monday deliveries, discover how the 'Hungry gap' period affects us on the farm, and learn all about delicious Rhubarb.
We've hit the "Hungry Gap"
It’s been all go on the farm over the last couple of weeks! The weather finally dried up enough for Mike to get underway with cultivation of the land and we have been busy planting out over 27,000 onions, 3000 calabrese and kale, 2000 beetroot, as well as lettuce and spring onions. Our early outdoor sowings of carrot, chard, perpetual spinach, true spinach, coriander and potatoes (early and main crop) are also now in the ground. Some of these crops went in almost a month later than usual due to the cold, wet spring that we have been having but it's exciting to finally have new plants in the ground.
We have also been busy planting up our tunnels with tomatoes, climbing beans and French beans. Planting will continue throughout May with further tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers in the tunnels and outdoor plantings of courgettes, kales, calabrese, Brussel sprouts, lettuce, sweetcorn, beans and peas.
But until all these new plants and seedlings mature, we have what is often referred to as the ‘Hungry Gap’. This is the time of year when last year’s winter crops – kales, chards, beetroots, carrots, leeks – are coming to an end and the new season crops are not quite ready to harvest. Hence a shortage of produce. It is the same for growers all across the UK. And it means that we are short of veg for your boxes so you may find that you have less variety for a couple of weeks until our new peas and broad beans are ready. So do bear with us on the chard, perpetual spinach and kale front! We are prioritising UK produce rather than buying in produce from abroad to cover this time. So while you can buy Italian carrots on our online shop, you won't see these in our boxes until our own early carrots are available in June. But fear not, it won’t be long until we have broad beans, peas, green garlic, spring greens and all of the new springtime produce. Watch this space!
Rheum x hybridum
Rhubarb is in its prime at the moment, just in time for the ‘hungry gap’ season. Rhubarbs
are deep-rooted perennials with large leaves. The stalks have a tart, tangy flavour and contain many important vitamins and minerals including calcium and vitamins C and K. But the leaves are poisonous and should never be eaten. There are numerous varieties of rhubarb. At Shillingford Organics we have Timperley Early, Victoria and Stockbridge Arrow.
In Asia, there is a long history of using rhubarb as a vegetable in soups and stews – the sharpness of the rhubarb goes well with the warmth of Indian spices for example and can be used in place of tamarind in daals and curries. In the West rhubarb is traditionally used as a fruit by chopping the stalk into short sections and poaching for 5-10 mins until softened and then sweetening to taste. The cooked fruit can be added to yoghurts, ice-cream, porridge or used in fruit crumbles and pies. It also makes delicious cordial.
Rhubarbs like rich, fertile soil that is well drained but doesn’t dry out too much. They like sun or partial shade. At Shillingford we grow our rhubarb between rows of mypex to keep down the weeds with a thick layer of compost and then straw added as a mulch. Apart from slugs, rhubarb has no serious pests. If old plants lose vigour, they can be divided in winter which will reinvigorate them. Rhubarb is best harvested by pulling rather than cutting stems to invigorate the roots and produce new shoots. The leaves are chopped off and discarded as a weed suppressant or composted.
Chloe Blackmore (Grower)
Bank Holiday Mondays (7th & 28th May)
Please note: TUESDAY box orders will be delivered on the WEDNESDAY in these two weeks - 7th & 28th May! All other box deliveries will remain the same.
It is with great sadness we must inform you we are no longer able to supply Emma’s Bread through our online shop. Our business is changing, and Emma’s has already changed with the move to the Quay. Between us we have tried several ways to get it to work but as we cannot guarantee fresh bread will be delivered with your orders, we have decided to stop selling it. I know this will be disappointing for many of you as you have supported Emma for many years, but we must maintain our promise to deliver fresh produce to you. All orders up to and including Friday, 4th May will be sent.
NB: Emma’s bread is still available in the Real Food Store, Exeter and at her new premises the Boatyard Bakery. A big thanks to Emma for all her hard work over the years, which has been very much appreciated.
Please be aware your order may no longer reach the minimum spend of £9 when any bread orders have been removed, please do check your accounts or contact the Admin Office at Shillingford Organics.
Have your say: Health and Harmony Command Paper
2018 is a truly momentous time for the future of British farming. The government’s food, farming and environment department, Defra, must decide how farmers could be supported after the UK leaves the European Union. There is now less than a week to respond to the Command Paper 'Health and Harmony - The future of Food, Farming and the Environment', which lays out proposals for future Agriculture Policy.
With only one week left till the deadline fill out the Defra command paper consultation TODAY. The Landworkers' Alliance has put together a great support package to make filling out the consultation as easy and straightforward as possible. They argue that good food should be seen is a public good and calling for support for smaller-scale agroecological farmers such as Shillingford Organics. It is vital that anyone who eat's food (that's all of us!) takes the time to do this before Tuesday 8th May.