Monday, April 6, 2020

volunteers

We are incredibly fortunate at the farm to have enough volunteers willing to put in enough time and effort to get us through this very difficult time.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Planting potatoes

Later than planned, due to the cold wet weather in early March, we planted our potatoes on Tuesday 24th March, one acre in one day. Many thanks to Chris and Adrien for sitting on the potato planter all day.
This year we planted 28 sacks in total, of Casablanca (first early), Bambino (salad), Maris Peer (second early), Cara (maincrop) and Carolus (blight-tolerant maincrop). We planted them in one half of the chicken field, having rotavated the ground twice, and allowing the chickens to pick over it in between times. Now we are trying to keep the chickens out of the potato area, but they are still getting through two fences of poultry mesh...

All being well we will have new potatoes towards the end of June.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Coronavirus impacts at the farm

These are strange and worrying times. Now that cracks are appearing in the wider system, people are turning to local producers and suppliers. We are just now entering the infamous Hungry Gap, which is the worst time of year to try to supply fresh produce - April and May - too much daylight and warmth for winter crops, but too early for summer crops. But our shop is very busy, and demand for veg boxes has increased threefold.

Most of our international WWOOF volunteers have gone back to their families, and the four that remain with us have been here for a while, so they know their stuff out on the farm, but four is still half of what we need to operate comfortably. Our three core members of staff have stayed well so far, and are committed to the cause, but are all exhausted already. Some of our local volunteers have stayed away, we have asked some of our vulnerable volunteers not to come in, but others have stepped up to take their place. We had a team of six out digging potatoes today, all two metres apart in the field and yard. What amazing people.

We have reduced the shop opening times, from 10am till 5pm every day except Sunday, when we close at 2pm (normally we open till 6pm for seven days per week). Shop customers are asked to wash their hands before entering the shop, with only one customer allowed inside at a time, and payments by contactless where possible. We are sterilising surfaces and tongs continually. We ask all visitors to the farm to please wash their hands upon arrival, and keep at least two metres away from anybody else.

The restaurant trade is non-existant, but veg-box numbers are at 150 per week. We now have four volunteer drivers delivering on a Friday, three of them in their own vehicles. This is the worst time of year to attempt these numbers, and our resources are buckling under the strain, but the need is there and we will do our best to provide fresh local food to the local community. We are buying in other produce to supplement our own, and trying to buy as local and as organic as possible, but we may have to compromise soon. We have closed the veg box scheme to new customers because we simply can't cope with the numbers.

For people not able to come to the shop, or to join the veg-box scheme, we are running bespoke deliveries from the shop shelves, to within a 3-mile radius and minimum orders of £10. Please phone us on 788454 for this service, but be warned that we don't often have time to answer the phone.

There is a lot to be done out on the land preparing for the new season too. We have been planting potatoes, cucumbers, climbing beans, salads, herbs, kale and broad beans over the past two weeks, and next we have spring greens plus more tomatoes and kale to go in. We have also sown field-scale chard and beetroot, as well as sowing lots of summer veg in trays in the Propagation Station. This would be a very busy time of year even without the ongoing crisis.

We are doing the best we can to keep you fed, prepare the farm for the new season, and keep ourselves healthy and operational. Please bear with us at this very difficult time.



Thursday, March 19, 2020

Recent WWOOF volunteers

We have had five wwoofers leave the farm recently, two of whom had come to the end of their planned stays, and three who left due to the current virus crisis. We'd like to thank Chris and Heather from the UK, and Thibaud, Charlotte and Valere from France, for their help and for being part of our community for a while. We hope that you all stay well and that we will see you back someday. This has left us with only two live-in volunteers, both of whom have been with us long-term since last year, and to whom we are very grateful. Thankfully our local volunteers are also being amazing and pulling together to help out as much as they can, as we are currently sending out record numbers of veg boxes and food deliveries to the local area (particularly to vulnerable and isolating members community), and very busy in the farm shop too!
Thibaud weeding green sprouting broccoli in a polytunnel.

Charlotte (purple jacket) and Thibaud (red jacket) helping to weed and mulch the permanent raised beds.

Chris on the right, with Gary outside the fruit cage.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Veg box price increases

On the 1st of April 2020 (so the first veg box to be affected will be on Friday the 3rd) we will be increasing the price of our veg boxes, for the first time in five years.
  • A small veg box will cost £7.
  • A standard veg box will cost £11.
  • Home delivery will cost £1.50 regardless of the distance from the farm.
  • Delivery to community hubs will still be free (except for Cafe Art in St. Ives which will remain at £1).
  • Milk will remain at £2 per litre (including the 20p bottle deposit).
  • Eggs will remain at £1.90 per half dozen.
  • Bread will also remain at the same price for all loaves.

Yesterday's veg boxes

Yesterday's 46 veg boxes contained:-
£6 box - salad, watercress, red cabbage, potatoes, and purple sprouting broccoli.
£10 box - salad, watercress, red cabbage, potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, kohl rabi, and oriental greens.
Veg boxes can also include upon request and at extra cost:-
  • our own free-range eggs from hens fed on GM-free soya-free feed, at £1.90 per half dozen;
  • local artisan bread from Vicky's, from £1.60 to £3.50 depending on the loaf;
  • local organic gold-top milk from Treen, at £2 per litre including a returnable 20p deposit.

Ellinor, Esther and Gary

Gary on the left, with Chris outside the fruit cage, after pruning autumn raspberries.

Ellinor picking salad in the Mothership.
Our latest three WWOOF volunteers to come and go were Ellinor from Oslo, Esther from Madrid, and Gary from Glasgow. Many many thanks to them all for their help and companionship during their stays with us.