Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter Leaves.

Winter came suddenly this year, bringing strong winds and heavy rain, with some hail, but without the freezing snowy conditions of last year. Not much is happening out on the vegetable field these days (that's not quite true, but most of the sowing and planting is taking place under cover) but our polytunnels provide good conditions for hardy salad leaves and other crops. Low light levels and reduced temperatures mean even in the polytunnels crops grow slowly, and we cannot meet the demands for mixed salad, so we concentrate our efforts on getting mixed salad leaves into the weekly veg-boxes, with whatever surplus there may be for sale on the farm-gate stall. Anyway, here's some photos of winter salad leaves, all growing in the polytunnel now.
Corn-salad, or lamb's-lettuce, a member of the valerian family, slow growing but attractive.

Giant red mustard, a brassica (member of the cabbage family).

Giant winter spinach, grows slowly through winter but shoots up in spring.

Green-in-snow mustard, good tangy winter brassica.

Greenwave mustard, another brassica.

Land cress, tastes like water cress but needs less water.

Mizuna, a brassica, fast growing but can be fiddly to harvest.

Namenia, another brassica, one of the best.

Nasturtian, not a brassica! Lovely peppery leaves and edible flowers too.

Pak choi, oriental brassica, can pick leaves or grow into a head of "Chinese leaves".

Rainbow chard, the old standby, young in salad or older as a vegetable.

Red winter kale, lovely feathery leaf for salads, another brassica.

Rocket, another classic brassica.

Sessantina, an oriental brassica.

Serifon, another oriental brassica (or is this Sessantina?).

Tat soi, similar to pak choi, leaves like lollipops.

New Compost Demonstration Site.

On Tuesday 13th December (a very busy day on the farm!) Guy from Cornwall Waste Action, assisted by several farm volunteers, constructed a compost demonstration site on our vegetable field. The site shows three methods of composting waste, being the New Zealand box, black Joanna, and tumbler, along with interpretation signs. The farm already operates a hot composting system constructed from old pallets, but this new site will demonstrate different and more "garden-scale" ways of producing compost.
Sonja, Jackie, Deb and Guy building compost bins in a torrential hail storm.

The completed compost demonstration site.

One interpretation board.

And the other.
Guy also gave the farm a wormery to set up in the house, which we will do in January when the worms have arrived. Thanks to Guy and the volunteers!

Map of the area.

Our friend Chris at YHA Land's End has produced a map of the area around St. Just and the Cot Valley, including Bosavern Community Farm and footpaths to the farm from town.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wild Penwith Volunteers on their fourth visit.

On Tuesday 13th December the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Wild Penwith Volunteers came to Bosavern Community Farm for their fourth working day since the project began. Their task was to clear brambles and gorse around the perimeter of the vegetable field, to allow access for repairing the rabbit-fence and coppicing the willow over the winter months. In fact, the same task as they undertook in November 2010 on their first visit here! This time the task was quicker and easier as there was only one year's bramble growth instead of two, so the whole job was done in the day, and there was time for a coppicing demonstration from Greg Humphries to boot.
Clearing brambles from the rabbit fence.

Waiting behind the new polytunnel for Greg's coppicing demonstration.

Greg getting into that willow coppice.
Many thanks to the Wild Penwith Volunteers for their hard graft on the day, and to Greg for his coppicing demo. Hopefully everyone will be back to coppice the willow sometime in early February.

Forthcoming Volunteer Sessions.

Tuesday December 20th - 1 till 5pm, harvesting produce for our Christmas veg boxes.
Thursday December 22nd - 10am till 3pm, organising and preparing for the farm's Christmas Family Fun Day, which runs that afternoon from 3 till 6pm.
Saturday December 24th - no volunteering (except for those on the chicken care rota).
Tuesday December 27th - no volunteering (except for those on the chicken care rota).
Thursday December 29th - no volunteering (except for those on the chicken care rota).
Saturday December 31st - back to normal volunteer session 1 till 5pm. See you there!

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish all our volunteers and supporters a wonderful Christmas and many many thanks for all your hard work throughout 2011 - we couldn't have done it without you and you are very much appreciated by the farm community. See you back here in the New Year, unless some of you make it in on the 31st....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Turkeys for Christmas.

We still have 2 turkeys available for Christmas, having sold 19 of our 21, so if anybody wants a Norfolk Black turkey this year please give us a ring on 01736 788454. They are due to be prepared for ovens on Thursday 23rd, and cost £10 per kilo, so in the region of £50 to £70 per bird depending on the size you require. Hurry!

Cornwall Today article.

Bosavern Community Farm is pleased to have been featured in the December 2011 issue of "Cornwall Today", with a 2-page spread on pages 70 and 71.

Friday, December 9, 2011


If evidence were needed that (in a time of supermarket-driven global agri-business) the small-scale community-run local organic farm is the answer at the end of the rainbow.... A brief lull in Friday's vegetable harvesting....

St Just Christmas Fair.

Tomorrow, Saturday 10th December, we will have a fundraising stall in the Old Town Hall for the Christmas Fair, selling quality used items, chicken sponsorships, farm produce, hone-made cakes and pickles. The fair runs from 10:30 am till 4pm. Please support the community farm by shopping at our stall, and by donating items for us to sell.

Christmas Family Fun Day.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Recent Workshops.

On November 8th Bosavern Community Farm was the venue for three workshops, attended by trainees from gardening courses run by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (of which we are a member). The day was a celebration of composting and growing, run in association with the FCFCG plus Cornwall Neighbourhoods 4 Change (CN4C) and Cornwall Waste Action.

The first workshop was taken by Hugh, Community Farm Trainer here at BCF, with the theme of "winter cropping both outdoors and under cover", being a guided tour of the vegetable field and polytunnel, so a chance to see theory put into action in the field. The second workshop was "composting" taken by Guy from Cornwall Waste Action, with a lively discussion followed by a visit to the farm's hot composting station out in the veg field. And the third workshop was "chicken keeping" taken by Kent, a regular volunteer here at the farm and fount of wisdom with experience in smallholding. Feedback from all three sessions was excellent, with many people taking inspiration from the day.

Kent with attendees and chickens.

Guy explaining hot composting out in the veg field.
There will be more workshops to come, so please watch this space for information.

Land's End Peninsula Community Land Trust Newsletter.

Dear Supporters of BCF and Followers of Hugh's blog...

Its been another busy couple of months at BCF with lots happening and lots in the pipeline!

Since the last update we have hosted a couple of extremely lively events at the farm one for a group of fifty teenagers on a world tour- sailing on a training tallship, aptly named the 'class afloat'. They loved the farm, the project and the group of St Just schoolchildren who showed them around 'their' farm so enthusiastically and with such pride. BCF also hosted a celebrationary event for the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, who invited trainees from their gardening courses to come and take part in some free workshops (put on by BCF staff and volunteers) and enjoyed a great lunch (produce from the farm- prepared and baked using the Age Concern kitchen- Thanks Sylvia and Jill!)

For the local families we held a pre Feast- feast! a Halloween 'Hextravaganza' at St Just Rugby Club with lots of fiendish games and craft sessions and hog-roasted our community- pig!! (thanks to Tom MacFadden for doing such a grand job both cooking and carving...'twas enjoyed by all).

Also, thanks to the enthusiasm of one of our newest volunteers- Jenny, our produce is not only to be seen at the Pendeen Farmers Market but more recently at the  St Just Primary School, where Mrs O Brien has kindly agreed for us to share a stall with them selling farm produce and also any that the school has grown (or parents) for their own funds- a great partnership! Dates for which will be advertised and in the new year we plan for it to be a regular fortnightly event.

On a more practical level....the turkeys are doing what turkeys do best.....getting fat! the chickens are about to be moved to their new site...on the other side of the field! and the pigs....sadly... are gone, sadly because they are a great animal to have around and gone because we've eaten them....which is the reality of being an omnivore.. but what a great life our meat had and we plan to have more...in fact anyone interested in a future share should let us know. To all herbivores and their keepers, all our hay is now sold so until next summer thats it. Further news from the fields is that the cattle that have been so beautifully managing our outer fields through a local third party farmer are about to leave for the winter months. 

Great news also on the veg growing front as the farm crew have recently erected our new polytunnel, funding for which was raised from a Cornwall Neighbourhoods 4 Change 'pot' along with match funding from BCF business and in-kind labour...so a huge thanks to all our volunteers for their efforts, which were literally doubled in value!! as well as CN4C for the cash donation.

As far as planning for the future we have now submitted our final application for a lottery bid that, if successful, will make the dream of owning our community farm a reality....though as a plan B is always a good idea- the BCF finance team is already working on a share issue and mortgages and lending schemes appropriate to a community project.

We would also like to announce and welcome a new member to the team, Jackie Packer, who has kindly offered to help with our bookkeeping and banking (phew!), its a great relief to have someone with such experience(and patience) to guide us and keep us in check.

Im sure there are lots of things we have missed, but you can always come and visit and see for yourself how your community farm is progressing, to buy some eggs or volunteer yourself, hours are still 1-5pm on a Tuesday and Saturday and 10-3pm on a Thursday. 

Finally the fun-d raising team have been working hard on the winter celebration at the farm and the date for your diary is 22nd December between 3 and 6pm as usual there will be a number of great activities for all the family, some festive food and a chance to gather together for some seasonal sing-song round the christmas tree...so look out for postersin St Just nearer the day and bring your friends and family. We are also inviting the  members from Age Concern at around 5pm for a few carols and mince pies in the warmth of the farm kitchen...so if your gran or grandad would like to come along for that then please bring them along.

Once again many thanks to all who have helped and supported us throughout the year and we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Winter Solstice and a Happy New Year.

written by deb pepper on behalf of the bosavern farm community.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Preparing the new polytunnel.

Jim and Hugh today finished digging over the inside of the new polytunnel, having been helped along the way by several volunteers over the past month. Couch grass spaghetti was the main problem, but there was Yorkshire fog, annual meadow grass, nettles, black nightshade, fat hen, dock, and cranesbills in there too.
Halfway down the tunnel - Lorraine, Zoe, Jim and Jaimie.
Looking back to the far end of the tunnel we can already see bits of couch coming up again, only three weeks after it was dug out. Couch is indefatigable. Every little bit of discarded root will shoot again, so now we must go back over the ground and pick out the little bits. Then it's on to installing beds and irrigation before transplanting lettuces, pak choi, green sprouting calabrese, and sowing winter salads!

Composting Demonstration Site.

A composting demonstration site will be set up in the vegetable field during the morning on 13th December, by Guy from Cornwall Waste Action. He'll need help from a handful of willing volunteers, so please let us know (788454) if anyone is interested in lending a hand on the day. Thanks!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New polytunnel update.

Our new polytunnel is now structurally complete! During a special session on Tuesday 1st November (thanks to all those people who turned up to help at such short notice - the weather was perfect and we just had to go for it) a team of volunteers got the polythene "skin" onto the frame, finishing by the light of mobile phones as darkness fell. The tunnel measures 16 by 60 feet, so that was quite a big piece of plastic to get on, so a great effort by all concerned.
Fixing the polythene skin to the timber base rail - Bob, Deb and Sonja.

Nailing on batons - Ann and Jaimie.
Jim getting to grips with the cornering.

Pleating the tunnel ends in the dusk - Bob, Kent and Jim.
Now all that remains to do is finish weeding the inside (we're almost there), prepare the beds and path, install irrigation, and transplant seedlings from the old tunnel into the new beds!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jaimie and Zoe.

Many thanks go to Jaimie and Zoe, who swapped sunny Australia for damp Penwith and wwoofed on the farm for two and a half weeks in November. Thanks for all your hard work, and for donating your "travel-time" to come and help on the farm. Happy travels!

Entry written by John, who volunteered on the farm in May.

I spent two weeks working and living at Bosavern Farm as part of the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) scheme. While it would be impossible to convey every positive I took from the experience and still keep this account a reasonable length, I’ll try to relay exactly what I learnt from my time on the farm as well as try to get across why community farming projects like Bosavern are so important.

Perhaps the most widely known positive of community farming is its environmental impact, or rather lack of. When it comes to small community farms like Bosavern the distances involved in transporting food – from the ground, to the point of sale, to the consumer’s kitchen table - could in some cases be measured in mere metres. Supermarkets on the other hand are the antithesis of this low impact model. They often import vast quantities of food from abroad, a process heavily dependent on fossil fuels for transportation. They also operate a production network of increasingly centralised intensive farms, meaning even the produce grown in the UK has to travel cross country, by lorry, to get to supermarket stores, probably via large sorting warehouses. In a world of increasingly scarce natural resources and awareness of the importance of reducing the first world’s carbon footprint it’s a model that is no longer sustainable. Community farms cut food miles down to, potentially, zero. When working at Bosavern the potatoes I harvested travelled - from soil to the farm gate where they are sold – I think about 50 metres, by wheelbarrow, powered by me. If the customer then travels by foot to buy them from the gate those potatoes are effectively carbon neutral.

This reduced distance between a community farm and the customer is not just literal. The centralisation of our food system has created a disconnect between our food and where it comes from, meaning as a society we have no relationship with the people and land that produce our food. For many members of the public food simply appears on super market shelves as if by magic, they can’t put a human face to the people who sow, grow and harvest the crops they eat. This is convenient for the handful of companies that control our food system: when a customer buys a cheap tomato they think only about the price, the farmer who’s receiving an increasingly diminishing return for his crop is out of sight, and therefore out of mind. At Bosavern the majority of conversations members of the community had with Hugh were predictably about food; what was good that week, what crops would soon be harvested, which ones were coming along well, which were struggling a bit, how the weather was affecting production. Imagine asking the shelf stacker in Tesco’s how that season’s broad beans were maturing. Living in close proximity, and having access to where our food is produced reconnects us to its origin and produces a more empathetic relationship between the producer and consumer. Bosavern, through the volunteer and community aspects of the farm, has bridged this gap altogether, making consumer and producer almost one and the same.

Being a community farm creates a link of mutual interest between Bosavern and local residents. It also earns them the right to voice their opinion on how it’s run and encourages involvement in the day to day goings on at the farm, through volunteering and getting involved with fundraising or the educational activity days. This enfranchisement, the feeling of having an influence on something that matters (and what matters more than food!), encourages inclusion, provides a feeling of personal fulfilment and both creates and strengthens community ties. Volunteers at Bosavern and farms and institutions like it have the unique satisfaction of involvement at potentially all levels of production; they have a say on what’s grown, they can sow the seeds, harvest the crop, then have a say on where the money made through selling the produce goes.

Despite taking a keen interest in where my food came from before I arrived at the farm, I realised within hours of arriving how narrow my knowledge of vegetables actually was. Just by taking one quick circuit of the Poly-tunnel I was exposed to several varieties of salad that I’d never heard of, let along eaten. Mizuna and mibuna, both viable alternatives to the more common rocket for adding a peppery taste to salads, were two that spring to mind. On my first night there Hugh made a tasty spaghetti ‘chard-ongese’, I’d heard of chard but again I had no recollection of having eaten it before. This seems absurd when you consider how worthy a substitute it can be for spinach (tougher, less likely to wilt to nothing in your fridge within a couple of hours of purchasing). This of course reflects a truth that is well known in certain circles in the UK but not in the country as a whole; while supermarkets may give the illusion of choice the range of vegetables and foodstuffs on offer is actually very limited. Apples are a good example of this. Roughly 3000 different varieties of apples exist in the UK, however only a few are widely available in UK supermarkets. If we as a country embraced a wider variety of home-grown apples (and this goes for many other fruit and vegetables) we could vastly lessen our dependence on foreign imports. By aiming towards at least an ideal of community self-sufficiency farms like Bosavern encourage exploration; if you’re going to pursue a diet whereby locally grown produce makes up the majority of your ingredients, you’re going to have to widen your palette beyond what’s available in supermarkets. This opens up the opportunity to embark on a gastronomic journey of discovery, an exploration into new varieties of fruit and veg and culinary combinations, like Hugh’s ‘chard-ongese’, for instance!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bric-a-brac wanted.

We are looking for good quality items to sell from our stall to raise money for the farm, at Pendeen Table Top Sale on Saturday 26th November, then St Just Town Hall Christmas Fair on Saturday 10th December. Items can be dropped off at the farmhouse. Ideally the items will be good enough for people to buy as Christmas gifts - home-made cake or jams would also be most welcome!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Halloween Hextravaganza.

On October Friday 28th there were ghostly goings-on and spooky spine-tingling shivery shenanigans at St Just Rugby Club, as Bosavern Community Farm held our "Halloween Hextravaganza" there. The main attraction was a hog-roast of one of the three pigs raised on the farm through the year and recently slaughtered - two as "piggy shares" for friends of the farm, and the third for the Halloween hog-roast. And she was very tasty indeed.
Carving the hog-roast.
As well as eating, there were fun and games in the form of welly-wanging, fancy dress, face-painting, tug-o-war, gooey gloop, a raffle, apple-bobbing, pumpkin carving - and of course the rugby club bar.

A new take on the old apple-bobbing tradition.

Pumpkin carving.

Preparing for tug-o-war.

Gooey gloop, or spaghetti entrails.
The punk pumpkin.


Becky, a long-term volunteer on the community farm, left recently to head back up north. Becky was here for four months, and was invaluable help during the busy times over summer, and in covering the days off of other staff. During her time here we brought in 200 more laying hens, 21 Christmas turkeys, started work on the new polytunnel, built up the veg boxes to 12 a week, sent our three little pigs to slaughter, hosted 13 wwoofers, and started switching our crop rotation from 2011 to 2012 planting - never a dull moment! Many thanks for all your help Becky, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Becky hoeing round the purple sprouting broccoli.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spaghetti with kale, garlic and parmesan.

This recipe comes from Duchy Home Farm in the Cotswolds, and serves 3.

250g kale
225g spaghetti
50g butter
half a tablespoon olive oil
one red onion
3 garlic cloves
75g parmesan cheese

Cut the kale into ribbons/strips. Bring a large pan of salted water to the the boil, add the kale abd cook for two minutes once it has returned to the boil. Remove the kale with a slotted spoon and refresh unser cold water. Put the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.
Chop the red onion and garlic finely. In a separate pan melt the butter and oil, add the onion and garlic, a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Gently cook it until the onion is translucent (not burnt!). Add the kale to the garlicky mixture and mix to coat the leaves well. Add the cooked and drained spaghetti and mix well. Serve on warmed plates with freshly grated parmesan sprinkled over.


Many thanks to Francesca, who volunteered as a wwoofer on the farm for one week, and especially thanks for leaving half a chocolate cake behind for us!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Green tomato chutney.

It's that time of the year when your tomatoes stop ripening and sit there looking green and unappetising. So here's an easy recipe to make delicious green tomato chutney!

6 cups chopped green tomatoes
1 cup sultanas
1 cup chopped onion
1.5 cups light brown sugar (packed firm)
1 teaspoon salt
1.25 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon spices
1 teaspoon chilli powder (or a fresh chilli or two).

Put everything into a pan, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for one hour until thick, then spoon into sterilised jars. You can start eating it next day, or store it in a cool place.

Halloween Hextravaganza.

For our next event we are teaming up with St. Just Rugby Club on Friday 28th October, 3-7pm, to present a "Halloween Hextravaganza". There will be arts and crafts, games, fancy dress, and a barbecue using pork reared on the community farm. Everybody welcome!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hot chilli chutney.

Here's a delicious recipe we found on the internet. It makes 3 small jars of chutney/relish, great with fried eggs or whatever really. We have three varieties of hot chilli available at the farm gate stall - "ring of fire" red chillies, jalapeno peppers, and "amarillo" fat yellow chillies.

450g chillies
1 onion
6 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
25g root ginger (peeled and grated) or 2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon salt
three-quarters cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sugar
one quarter cup vinegar

Finely chop chillies, including seeds. Finely chop onion and garlic. Mix together chillies, onion, garlic, cumin, turmeric, ginger, salt and oil. Put in a heavy-based pan and fry for 15 minutes stirring often. Add sugar and vinegar, bring to boil, cover pan and boil for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Spoon into sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

First day on the new polytunnel.

Yesterday we held a special volunteering session to get as much of our new polytunnel built as possible, so many thanks to the 12 people who came along throughout the day to help. Simon and Hugh began on the Friday by marking out the site of the tunnel, using a laser theodolite to level and measure the site to within an inch (the new tunnel is 66 by 16ft, so we're working in imperial measurements).
Simon marking out the site for our new polytunnel.
Which meant that when people arrived on Saturday morning we already knew where the 26 2ft-deep holes had to be dug and it was all hands on spades. By the end of the day we had all the holes dug, most of the anchor-plates and base-poles in place, half of the hoops erected, and 2 strengthening struts attached.
Putting the hoops together, with Alice, Nigel, Jean and Kent.

Getting those anchor-plates just right, with John, Bob and Simon.
Putting the community into farm - a well-deserved and delicious lunch in the farmhouse kitchen.
We will be continuing the work on Tuesday afternoon, 1-5pm (our usual volunteering session) so if you want to lend a hand please come along.