June news from the Farm
- We are almost through the tricky Hungry Gap period and into the wonderful abundance of the summer with the first of the new season produce coming through: broad beans, kales, chard, khol rabi, lettuce, peas and beetroot. The first flowers are on the courgettes and beans, and it won't be long until the fennel is ready! Look out for these seasonal treats in our boxes and at our Farmers Market stall.
- We are continuing with regular plantings of lettuce and sweetcorn, beans and peas, as well as more cucumbers and basil. After a very dry end to May, we have all been appreciating the rain over the past week. It makes such a difference when crops are watered naturally as the sprinklers inevitably miss patches and only a small area can be irrigated at any one time. It also takes a lot of time to set up the sprinklers and move them around to different areas. Last week we planted 40,000 leeks as well as our main crop kale, cabbages and early purple sprouting broccoli and were rewarded with the rain on Friday to water it all in.
- With the rain has come another flush of weeds so we will be busy hoeing and weeding all the new plantings over the coming weeks. Mike does a lot of the weeding with the tractor mounted weeding machinery but there is still plenty of hoeing to do within the rows.
Broad Beans: vegetable of the month
Another delicious reminder that winter is firmly behind us and spring is truly here is the arrival of the broad beans. Perfectly suited to our temperate climate, these are the only beans that don’t mind the cold, in fact, try to grow them in more tropical climes and you most likely won’t see a single bean!
Due to this tolerance of the cold, broad beans are an excellent crop to overwinter, so both our indoor and outdoor crops are started early, being direct sown in late October. Further outdoor sowings are made throughout winter with any window of dry, milder weather; conditions that fortunately weren’t too rare this past winter. Planted too early though and they are more susceptible to disease, wait too long and the ground may never dry up.
Once the beans start to form, the tops of the plants can be removed; not only does this deter blackfly, but it also concentrates the plants' energy into the pods as well as providing a sweet addition to any seasonal salad! Full of protein, the beans can be eaten fresh, raw, cooked, or dried for a later date. Commercially known as fava beans once dried, they are a UK-grown alternative to more common imported beans.
Our fresh beans are available in the boxes, the online shop and on the market stall from late May until July. Try out these two delicious recipes:
Broad Bean Falafel - Simply boil the podded beans in water for a few minutes then plunge into cold water. It’s up to you whether you shell them or not. Mash or blitz them with herbs such as mint and dill, half a diced onion, garlic, 2 tea spoons of cumin, dried chilli, tea spoon of baking powder and add olive oil as you go to get a sausage like consistency. If too loose you can add a little flour to help bind the mixture together. Season to taste and then shape into small balls. Fry in olive oil until a nutty brown colour.
Broad Bean Hummus - Pod and shell the broad beans and blanch in boiling water for around 5 mins, drain and cool. Put the beans in a blender, with a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of Tahini, a big glug of olive oil, juice of a lemon and season well. You can add spices such as cumin, cayenne and paprika or herbs such as mint and coriander. Serve with warm pitta.
Joe Ratford, Grower
Food, Farming and Climate Change
The Landworkers' Alliance have just released a new report about the links between food, farming and climate change. Our food system is responsible for a total of 30% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. This contribution includes; food packaging, waste, haulage, refrigeration and land-use changes overseas for animal feeds and bulk commodities – in addition to direct emissions from UK farms. Yet the way we farm and how we eat also has potential to play a fundamental role in mitigating the effects of climate change.
The report lays-out a progressive policy framework that could support both established land workers and a new generation to immediately reduce the impact of UK agriculture on our climate – as well as the policies required to prepare for an inevitable transition to low-carbon diets.
Unsurprisingly, eating locally plays a key role in reducing climate impact. Not only does eating locally reduce food miles and transport emissions, but local food sales tend to involve less processing, packaging, refrigeration and waste. Eating locally also avoids shifting our emissions impact elsewhere into developing countries where crops are grown purely for the export market using valuable land which is no longer used to feed the local population.