Monday, July 6, 2020

End of the hungry gap

In early June we celebrated the end of this year's "hungry gap", always the most difficult time of the year to harvest fresh produce, as supplies run out and the new season's crops aren't yet ready. This year we had to bridge the gap by buying half-pallets of veg from Phoenix Organics in Herefordshire (potatoes, onions and beetroot mainly), to supplement what we could grow ourselves, or could buy from other local growers.

Friday 3rd July was the first week this year when all the veg in our veg boxes was grown on the community farm, as was all the fresh produce in the farm shop. This is good going when you consider that we are now filling 140 veg boxes a week!

Chard and beetroot patch on the market garden.

Lucy and Sue picking black Tuscan kale in the permanent raised beds.

Maincrop onion beds beautifully weeded.

Cucumbers and aubergines from the polytunnels.

Rainbow chard in the packing shed ready for veg boxes.

A leaning tower of bulb fennels.
Picking salad for shop and veg boxes - Jack, Gary, Maris, Ilaria, and Reis.

Cucumber and French bean vines with our new overhead irrigation system.
When the first cucumbers are ready in May that is always a cause for celebration, as it is the first step on the climb out of the hungry gap. This has been this year followed soon after by kale, spring greens, garlic, French beans, chard, beetroot, overwintering onions, broad beans, rhubarb, globe artichokes, new potatoes, bulb fennel, with herbs and salad leaves continuing thoughout.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


Rex, our lovely long-term wwoof volunteer, finally left us on Sunday morning, having been here since last September. We miss him already! He has eventually managed to reunite with his family in France, having formed a vital part of our "lock-down crew". The farm and our community owe Rex huge gratitude for his help during the past ten months, for his role as a key-worker keeping West Penwith supplied with fresh veg and eggs, and for keeping us sane during stressful times.
Rex and Ilaria with the first beetroot harvest of 2020.

Camping 2020

We have decided not to host camping on the community farm this year, but we hope to be able to do so again next year with improved facilities. At present, our veg box scheme and farm shop are supplying upwards of 200 local people and families with their fresh veg (and other wholesome food) needs, and it is this essential service during troubled times that we have to focus our energies on. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause, but there are plenty of other campsites in the local area. Visitors are of course welcome to visit our farm shop for their food supplies, where we have Covid-19 precautions in place.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Busy busy busy

We are very pleased to be very busy at this critical time. We are continuing to support our local community as best we can, both through our farm shop (which has remained open daily throughout the crisis, with safety measures in place) and veg box scheme.
Our weekly veg box numbers remain high - it took us eight years to reach 50 boxes per week, then only three weeks in March to get to 155 per week. This has now reduced slightly to about 140 - 35 of these weekly boxes are for Pendeen School, who distribute them to their Pupil Premium families, and we are pleased to have been asked to continue this service until late July.
Somehow we have managed to fill these high numbers of veg boxes during April and May, the two worst months of the year for fresh produce, the notorious "hungry gap". We have been very relieved to have been able to buy fresh produce from Cargease Organics, Phoenix Organics, Trenow Organic Market Garden, and Heather Lane Nurseries to help see us through. As we are now clawing our way slowly out of the hungry gap this stressful task will become (thankfully) easier.
We are, as always, hugely grateful to the team of local volunteers who come to the farm, without whose help we couldn't provide so much for so many. Although many precautions are taken, our volunteers (and staff) put themselves and their families at risk whenever they leave their homes to come and help, and we cannot thank them enough. Thanks are also due to Sue James for giving us the money to buy a large gazebo for the farmyard, allowing us all to have coffee-breaks and lunch outside in the yard, at two-metres apart, whatever the weather.

Red kites

On Thursday 28th May we had some rare visitors over the farm - four red kites - distracting us during our picking-and-packing social-distancing mid-morning coffee-break. This photo shows the distinctive tail, as this red kite was chased away by a gull (on Saturday I also saw a buzzard being harassed by jackdaws).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Recent nature sightings on the farm

A kestrel hunting over the tussocks of Home Field - we see this kestrel most days.

An adder in the market garden, only the second time one has been seen on the farm in ten years.

Orange-tip butterfly in the Propagation Station polytunnel.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Busy on the farm

Although things have calmed down a little in recent weeks, the community farm is still very busy, in the packing shed and the farm shop. Weekly veg box numbers have dropped from around 155 to around 145, and at this the leanest time of year we are struggling - but so far managing - to find enough produce to put in them. We have bought produce from Cargease Organics in Cockwells, Heather Lane Nurseries in Canonstown, Trenow Market Garden in Perranuthnoe, and Phoenix Organics in Herefordshire to help us.
146 veg boxes under way in the packing shed last Friday.
Thankfully our faithful hungry gap crops (mange-tout, sugar snaps, various herbs, purple and green sprouting broccoli, sprouting tips, and salad leaves) have done well, though some have now finished, but those are being replaced by the earliest crops of the new season starting to come through (radishes, globe artichokes, kales, cucumbers, wet elephant garlic, and more herbs).
Wet elephant garlic.

Picking the last of the PSB.
To supply this much fresh produce to the local community would be almost impossible without the involvement of the local community, and we all owe a lot of thanks to the local volunteers who help pick, pack, sell, grow and deliver this essential food, as well as our small team of staff and residential volunteers - Sue, Linda, Ben, Ian, Lucy 1, Dom, Caroline, Helen, Andy, Shelley, Mary-Ann, Joe, Lucy 2, Nick, Neil, Maggie, Chris, Rex, Gary, Ilaria, Fran, Adrien, Cathy, John, Ailsa, Deb, Cameron, Ali and Holly.