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

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.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Adrien

Adrien today left the farm for a second time. He volunteered with us for 9 months up until last summer, then returned in March for a social visit, before being stuck with us for 2 months due to the coronavirus lockdown! We are very very grateful for his help during this difficult time, he has again been invaluable. Adrien is the first of our lockdown team to leave. He should now be on the road in France, and we wish him good health and good luck as he returns home to uncertainty.
Mending the chicken fence with Rex.

Picking salad in the Mothership.

Packing greens with Ilaria.

Stringing tomato vines with Ilaria.
Planting potatoes with Chris.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Chicken sheds move again

As part of our rotation system, every two years the chickens move field, which involves dragging their sheds (with the chickens inside) from one field to another through some very narrow gateways. Kieron Williams helped us for the second time running, and he's getting quite good at it! Our tractor is only strong enough to tow the sheds downhill, but Kieron's can pull them uphill too...

Chickens out and about in their new field, six days after digging the last of our potatoes out of this patch.

Rex and Adrien replacing a section of fence after the chicken sheds had passed through.
Half of the field where the chickens came from is already planted with potatoes (ridged up today for the second time), and the other half is about to be ploughed for our winter brassica patch (plus leeks, beetroot etc..).

Friday, May 1, 2020

Beltane

Last night would have been our annual Beltane celebration and community get-together at the farm. But not this year, cancelled like most other things due to Covid-19. So here are some photos from Beltanes past to cheer us up.
2011

2012
2013

2014
2015

2016
2019
The two missing years are because I wasn't there, but there was still Beltane on the farm. Hopefully in 2021 we'll all be back!

Peat-free potting compost £8.70

We have had a delivery of Petersfield Peat-Free Supreme potting compost, which is the best peat-free compost we've found, and what all the plants we raise to grow or sell are started off in. Sacks are available in the shop at £8.70 (as well as seeds and plants - herbs, bee-friendly flowers, tomatoes and courgettes).

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Seeds in the shop again

We have a big new stock of garderner's seed packets from the Seed Cooperative.
Our farm shop is open Monday to Saturday 10am till 5pm, and Sunday 10am till 2pm.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Ten Year Anniversary

Bosavern Community Farm has now been here, in physical form, for TEN YEARS! In April 2010 a small group of local-food enthusiasts were given an 18-month lease of an empty farm by Cornwall Council. So much has happened since then. We are still here, and even more necessary during these strange times. We have had to postpone all the anniversary celebration events due to the current global pandemic, but we hope to be able to celebrate this amazing achievement properly with our wonderful community once things are more normal.

In the meantime we'd like to thank all the people who have made positive contributions to the farm over the past decade - especially our team of local volunteers who have supported us through thick and thin.
Starting work on the Market Garden in autumn 2010.
Inside the only polytunnel we had at the beginning - the Mothership.

The first egg laid by our first flock of hens.

Herb, tomato and bee-friendly plants for sale

With thanks to Ian we now have plenty of herb, tomato and bee-friendly plants for sale outside the farm shop. All have been grown by us from seed using peat-free compost. Herbs (basil, mint, parsley, chervil, dill, sage, lavender, savoury, hyssop etc) are £1, tomatoes (red alert, sungold, black Russian, subarctic plenty) are £1.50, and strips of alysum are £2.
Last year we bought 150 packets of vegetable seeds from the Seed Cooperative to sell in the farm shop, and we had 13 left at the end of the season. This year we have one left after only a few weeks. So today we have ordered another batch to arrive next week sometime hopefully. We are also trying to buy more sacks of peat-free supreme potting compost.

New hens

We brought 75 point-of-lay hens to the farm on Wednesday 8th April, to bring our flock number over 400 for the first time. With the amount of veg box orders and shop customers we have at the moment we could use some extra eggs!
This is the first year that we have not offered our old hens for adoption by local small-holders and gardeners, due to the ongoing Covid-19 lock-down. We have kept them ourselves, and they are currently teaching the new girls all their bad habits...

Monday, April 20, 2020

Another busy week

Last week was another busy week at the farm. As well as plenty of customers stocking up in the farm shop, and over 150 veg boxes (with eggs, bread and milk) going out all over Penwith on Friday, we had plenty of work out on the farm to get on with - transplanting watercress, planting tomatoes, sowing climbing beans, planting runner beans, potting-on tomatoes, sowing basil, planting onions, sowing peas, radishes and carrots, as well as all the usual harvesting and looking after chickens. Luckily we have an amazing group of volunteers who are taking personal risks to ensure that our community gets the food it needs during these strange times - Andy, Shelley, Rex, Ilaria, Gary, Adrien, Chris, Sue, Katy, Joe, Lucy, Maggie, Neil, Ian, Deb, Fran, Nick, Lil, Dom, Caroline, other Lucy, Sally, Ailsa, Nick, Ben, Linda, Helen, Penny, Alfie, Ruby - thank you all very much on behalf of the farm and our community.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Current shop opening times

We have slightly reduced our shop opening times, partly because we have fewer resident volunteers to staff the shop, partly to free people up to sow and plant out on the farm, and partly to let us catch our breath during these strange days. We are now open from 10am till 5pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and 10am till 2pm on Sundays.
The farm shop on the morning of Easter Saturday.
Most produce for sale in the shop is either local or organic, and often both, but we are now having to stock some items which are neither because supplies have become scarce and we are moing into the Hungry Gap. Flour is one example. Everything is clearly labelled as to its provenance and status. We always strive to be as local and organic as possible.

We have bread from Vicky's every day except Sunday (when we still sell Saturday's bread). Frozen bread is also available.

Fresh full-fat milk from Treen is delivered every Friday morning.

Local veg from Cargease Organics comes on a Thursday morning.

Our own GM-free eggs may be scarce during the week as we have to save them up for Friday deliveries, but there should be plenty over the weekends.

We harvest our own Wholesome Food Association veg for the shop whenever we find the time to do so! Depending what is in season.

We are now serving customers at a table across the shop doorway, from where most of the shop shelves are visible. Please don't be offended by this - it is to protect the health of both you and our volunteers. We are trying our very best to ensure that everyone remains healthy so that we can continue to provide these essential services.

Harvesting Thursdays and delivering Fridays

Most of the veg that goes into our veg boxes is picked on a Thursday, with salad leaves and items like lettuces being picked first thing Friday morning just before the veg boxes go out. So Thursday has always been a big busy day for us, but recently it has got even bigger and busier as our veg box numbers have gone up from 50 to 150 per week.

Luckily plenty of local volunteers have stepped in to help us pick and pack, without whom these numbers would not be possible - so we all owe a lot of thanks to Sue, Linda, Ben, Dom, Andy, Shelley, Nick, Anthony, Caroline, Lucy, Rosa and others, for helping us get fresh veg out to the households of West Cornwall.
Picking 12kg of spring greens in isolation on the market garden.

Social-distancing lunchtime in the farmyard (with our household of resident volunteers all together, everbody else spread out).
Plus of course another huge thank you to our volunteer delivery drivers every Friday - Lucy and parents for St Ives, Joe and family for Penzance, Andy for St Just and surroundings, and Chris for everywhere else (which takes him eight hours, including adding the milk and bread, and working out everybody's route for them - last Friday Chris had a chocolate biscuit for lunch whilst packing his second van-load of boxes).

Some of our regular volunteers are staying away in self-isolation. We miss you and hope to be able to welcome you back soon. If you need anything please let us know.

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.