Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yule Logs.

A Yule log is a special wooden log burned in the household fire as part of Christmas celebrations. Imagine the whole family gathering around their hearth to warm themselves on Christmas morning as the big Yule log crackled and flamed. To tie in with this tradition Bosavern Community Farm held a special Yule log event on December 18th, the final volunteering session before Christmas.
Cutting our Yule logs.
A large branch from one of our neighbour's pine trees had broken off and fallen into one of our fields, so with their permission we cut suitable logs from the branch, took them into The Hive resource room, decorated them with candles, ribbons, teasel heads, ivy, pine cones and glitter, and everyone had a Yule log to take home with them.
Fitting candles into holes drilled into the logs.
After the Yule logs were finished (and they looked great!) we retired to the farmhouse kitchen for home-made mince-pies and mulled wine, plus special mulled orange-tea, so thanks to everyone who came along and provided drink, nibbles and their company.

Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) Trainees.

The "Real Ideas Organisation" works with young people to make real change happen through social enterprise. Check out their website at for more information. In the Penwith area RIO are training young people in horticulture so as to broaden their horizons and improve their job prospects. We were fortunate to be able to borrow five of the RIO trainees for a day on 15th December, and we knuckled down to some land management tasks in the vegetable field.
Rob and Adam digging dock roots out of the vegetable beds.
Gus clearing around the herb bed behind the polytunnel. 
Stuart and Dylan knocking new posts in for the rabbit fence.
We got a lot done and all learned something, so thanks to RIO and their trainees for a good day all round.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

School Visits.

One of the aims of the Bosavern Community Farm project is to "create opportunities for training and education in land related skills", and one of our objectives is to "arrange courses and training events for schools and community groups". Since October we have been delighted therefore to welcome groups of pupils from St. Just Primary School for two hours every week as part of their curriculum. So far we have been introducing the pupils to the farm - of which their favourite must be the chickens! - and helping them to design their allotment, which we will be creating for them here on-site in the new year.
Primary school pupils designing their allotment.
Allotment design has been under way in The Hive resource room (previously known as the classroom), and the result is an imaginative and vividly coloured model showing vegetable plots, flower plots, sheds, fences, ponds, paths, trees, and even scarecrows. Our next task is to make their model become reality by transferring their vision onto one of our fields, thus creating the "school allotment".

We hope to be able to demonstrate how to grow a variety of crops, from the processes of plot design and construction, to sowing and planting, weeding and fertilising, plant care, and eventually through to harvesting and eating the produce. Our vision is for local school pupils to eat food that they and their fellow pupils have grown from seed.

Farm Gate Sales.

This month, December 2010, we set up our honesty-stall at the farm gate, and began to sell some produce from it. The stall currently consists of my grandfather's old bathroom cabinet (!!) but we are hoping to upgrade in the near future. Despite being in the depths of an icy winter, and not having been able to sow any seeds until the end of September, we are producing salad bags, radishes and winter greens ("raab" broccoli, a Mediterranean favourite - chop the leaves and swollen stems and add to soups and stews, discarding any fibrous bits) from the polytunnel, and fresh free-range eggs from our flock of hens. Everything is produced organically to Soil Association standards.
Starting to sell from the farm gate in the depths of December.
At any one time there is a selection from the above produce in the cabinet for purchase, and the range will increase as we get further into the new year. All proceeds from sales go towards helping the community farm progress towards its goals.

Our salad bags have been in production now since mid-November, and are also available from Yasmin's Deli in the centre of St. Just. They are made up of a crunchy zesty selection of the following - lamb's lettuce (a.k.a. corn-salad), "namenia" turnip-tops, rocket, "greenwave" mustard, "green in snow" oriental mustard, red salad-bowl lettuce, mizuna, red winter kale, giant winter spinach, endive, swiss chard and rainbow chard.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas.

Bosavern Community Farm would like to wish all supporters, friends and volunteers a very happy Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you after the festive season.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chicken sponsorships.

With only two weeks to go to Christmas it's high time to think about presents. This Christmas why not give a gift with a difference? By sponsoring a chicken at Bosavern Community Farm you will be helping to get the farm "clucking"! And all for the poultry sum of £6.... Sorry about the puns.... We are currently fundraising for our second flock of laying hens (plus all the associated fencing, feed, and housing costs), having bought the first 50 in November. Our first few organic free-range fresh eggs are now on sale at the farm gate. Our chickens are a happy bunch, and are a joy to behold as they range around their large grassy run. There are three ways of sponsoring a chicken:-
1) Come along to Pendeen Farmer's Market on Saturday 18th December between 10am and 12, and visit us on our chicken sponsorship stall.
2) Visit our website and download a sponsorship form, fill it out and post it to us with a cheque.
3) Call in to the farmhouse.
All sponsors receive a personalised certificate (ideal Christmas present!), and e-newsletters in the future about the chickens and farm in general.

Friday, December 10, 2010


"World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms" is a charity whose aim is to connect volunteers wanting to work on organic farms with organic farms who are seeking volunteers. See their website at for more information. Bosavern Community Farm signed up as a WWOOF Host in September 2010, and we hosted our first WWOOFers in November.
Julien and Seif digging-in the chicken fence, with Abbi and Adi beyond.
Julien and Seif, two French friends, came to live at the farm for 2 weeks and were invaluable help. Their main task while here was digging-in the bottom of the chicken-fence to make it fox-proof (fingers crossed), as well as many other jobs including helping on our Open Day, and putting the third and final roof on our chicken sheds. They were joined at the beginning by Abbi and Adi, who are involved with the organisation of WWOOF and came to visit the farm.
Enjoying the hard work (this was their first morning!).
Julien and Seif were a pleasure to have living in the farmhouse and working on the farm - thanks for all your hard work! They even visited the local school and helped in a French lesson. We are looking forward to more WWOOFers on the farm come the new year.
Building a new compost bin in the vegetable field.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More open day photos.

Fran helping budding young farmers decorate their broad bean pots.
In the polytunnel.

Out on the vegetable field.

Sowing a broad bean.

Charity Auction thankyous.

The charity auction held on Saturday night to raise funds for the community farm was a great success, although the final figure raised has yet to be confirmed. Many thanks to everybody who helped organise and run the event, including Sandra Meanwell, her glamorous assistant Leggy Peggy, and The Star for letting us use their pub for the evening. Thanks also to everyone who donated items for the auction (see list below), and to everyone who came along on the night and bid for items - you were all great, and the atmosphere was fantastic.

People and businesses who donated items to the auction:-
Tom Henderson Smith
Morwenna Morrison
Nancy Pickard
Melanie Stokes
Izzumi Omori
Janet Treby
Angela Stead
Trevor Ricketts
Paul Lewin
Poppy Treffry
Mary Gribble
Sandie Wills
Simon Cook
Mike Newman
Shelleys Beauty Salon
Sue James
Juliet Eavis
The Cook Book
Land's End Youth Hostel
Holly Whitelaw
Catherine Hunt
Frances Rippon
Cape Cornwall Golf Club
Amanda Pickering
The Plant Place
The Wellyrack Company in Perranuthnoe
Vivian Olds Organic Butchers
The Newlyn Harbour Design Centre
Sukothai Thai Restaurant in Penzance
Polgoon Vineyards
Gabrielle Hawkes
Caroline Binch
Clare Lucas
Sarah Lay
Sam Toft
Rose Hilton
Helen Jay
Lucy Birbeck
Rich Guy
The Co-op
Tony Snelson
Louise Snelson
The Old Stable in St. Just
Red Star Chinese in St. Just
Alice Pynn
Ian Cooke
Maggie O'Brian
Jane Adams
and Sandra Meanwell.

If I have missed anyone out please forgive me, and drop me a note so I can rectify the omission.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Charity Auction.

This coming Saturday 4th December at 8:30pm, we will be holding an auction in The Star pub in St. Just, in aid of Bosavern Community Farm. Money raised will go towards further developing the farm as a community asset and site of local food production. It promises to be a rip-roaring evening, hosted by local comediennes Sandra Meanwell and Peggy Leggy. There will be over 40 fabulous "lots" to bid for, including one night's bed and breakfast at the Land's End Hotel and Restaurant, a meal for two with wine at Land's End Youth Hostel, a surfing lesson, guitar lesson, driving lesson, Spanish lesson, drumming lesson, a cream tea for two in the Cook Book, a round of golf at Cape Cornwall Golf Club, a sauna, reflexology, plenty of superb arts and crafts from local artists, a Christmas cake from Warrens, etc.etc. A full list of lots will be posted in St. Just newsagents window and on our website. Lots will be available for viewing and advance bidding in The Star on Saturday afternoon. Be sure to get their early, bring friends, have a great evening, and help the community farm!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Big Chill.

Heading across Home Field to check on the chickens.
Winter has arrived on the steppes of Cornwall. This means checking on the chickens several times a day to make sure they're OK and that their water hasn't frozen (they need a good supply at all times). A second egg has been found today! 
The chickens are all snug in their house, and who can blame them?
The heavy frosts and sub-zero temperatures also mean wrapping up the tender plants. Even inside the polytunnel our dwarf banana palm is suffering badly and the nasturtiums look poorly. We've put net curtains over them to provide an insulating layer, so fingers crossed. Inside the polytunnel is almost as cold as outside, but the wind-chill factor is greatly reduced, meaning our hardy salads are surviving still, and providing us with the fresh zesty crisp leaves that make up our winter salad bags.
Snow on the outside of the polytunnel, while the salads survive inside.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wild Penwith volunteers.

By arrangement with Cornwall Wildlife Trust, the Wild Penwith volunteer group spent Tuesday 22nd November at Bosavern Community Farm, helping us to cut back brambles around the vegetable field so as to re-discover and repair the rabbit-fence. The fence runs all round the field so it's a big job, but thanks to Cornwall Wildlife Trust and their team of willing volunteers, the task is now almost complete, with just a small section needing clearing.
Clearing bramble from around the willow windbreak.
Brambles were cleared from in and around the willow windbreak, allowing us access to coppice the willow and bring it back into rotation. The willow is planted in three lines, one line being coppiced per year, leaving two lines as a windbreak (essential on our exposed vegetable field), whilst providing willow rods for weaving. The willow has not been coppiced since the last farmers moved on, so this winter we will coppice two lines, and therefore re-instate the necessary management plan.
Greg demonstrating how to coppice willow.
Our friend Greg, an expert coppicer and willow-worker, came along to help, and found time to demonstrate to the group of volunteers how to coppice the willow. Greg will hopefully be working with us in the future, and will prove that a living windbreak can also provide valuable materials for traditional crafts and useful objects, such as baskets, chairs, benches, and fence panels.
A well-earned tea-break in the sheltered sunny polytunnel.
Many thanks to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and their Wild Penwith volunteers, who worked hard all day for just a cup of tea and a bag of salad (plus free coppicing demonstration!). Also to Greg and our regular farm volunteers who turned up to help.

The First Egg!

The age-old conundrum is finally solved. Our chickens came two weeks ago, and the first egg came today....
Cameron holding the first egg, Deb with the proud layer, and Alice too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Planting broad beans.

It's November, and that means time for sowing broad beans. Autumn varieties of broad beans will be the first to ripen and ready to harvest next year (providing they survive the winter), earlier than broad beans sown in the coming spring. We sowed some in the polytunnel at the beginning of the month, and they've begun germinating already. For succession of supply, yesterday we sowed more outside, to be ready after the polytunnel beans.
A good bunch of volunteers came along to dig the perennial weed roots out of the bed (dock and couch grass), and then we sowed 100 "super aquadulce" organic broad beans, before covering the whole bed with bird-netting to prevent the resident pigeon population from helping themselves to the beans.
The team savour a good job well done.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Countryfile rescheduled.

Word from the BBC has it that the wild food forage filmed for Countryfile will be screened this Sunday evening (the 21st) at 6:30pm on BBC1. Keep an eye out for Hugh and Alice rummaging through the other Penwithians which you may or may not recognise....

Chickens arrive.

On the morning of Saturday 13th November, Bosavern Community Farm's first flock of chickens arrived at their new home. The birds are one year old, and certified organic. They are not due to start laying until the new year, after day-length begins to increase from December 22nd onwards. Hens naturally molt in winter and regrow their feathers, so that all their energy goes into producing feathers rather than eggs.
Our new chickens being released from their crates.
The ladies have spent the last few days settling in to their new home, recently painted and decorated. They are getting bolder every day, and are starting to forage around their 1000 square metre run. The fence is almost 2m high, with two strands of electric wire at the bottom to deter foxes, and dug into the ground to prevent foxes tunneling underneath. We are due to complete the digging-in of the wire-netting tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, the other 2 sheds have been painted and roofed, and await new occupants come 2011, although the fences need to be built.
Celebrating the arrival of our chickens.
We hope to be selling fresh organic free-range eggs early in the new year, fulfilling one of the main objectives of the Bosavern Community Farm group. If you would like to help us raise funds for buying more chickens, you can download a "chicken sponsorship" form from our webpage,, or call in to the farmhouse - and maybe even visit the ladies themselves!
Deb counting the chickens....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jumble Sale Thanks.

Many thanks to everybody who helped organise and run the jumble sale on Saturday 6th November - we raised over £250, which is a massive effort, and is essential for the progression of the farm (tools, seeds, chickens and feed etc..).

Superbly Successful Open Day.

On Saturday 13th November we held an open day at the farm, with everybody and anybody welcome to come along and find out what is happening and what our aims are. The day was a huge success, with around 100 people, mainly from the local community, coming down to the farm. Tea and cakes were served in the farmhouse kitchen, books were for sale in the barn, children's activities took place in the downstairs classroom and out on site, displays and information were available in the upstairs classroom, salad bags and sprigs of herbs were for sale in the polytunnel, our new chickens could be seen in their paddock, and answers and discussions were on offer everywhere at all times.
The "official" opening of our new classroom.
Everybody was free to wander around the farm as they wished, but a tour was led by members of the farm committee at 2pm, taking in all the sites of interest - the "under-construction" tree-bogs, the classroom, the polytunnel, vegetable field, and chicken field with its new occupants.
Farm tour arriving in the vegetable field.
Farm tour reaches the chicken shed.
As the farm tour progressed, children hunted for chocolate eggs in the undergrowth. Other children's activities were decorating plant-pots, sowing broad-beans, making bird-feeders, running around the fields, and rolling around in the straw in the barn!
Learning how to use a trowel in the polytunnel.
Hunting for chocolate eggs in the vegetable field.
Children young and old enjoy playtime in the barn.
Anne and her mother, two generations of the family who used to live and farm here.
For us at Bosavern Community Farm, the most important outcome of the open day was that so many people came to express their interest in the farm, and their support for the work that goes on here. The whole day had a very positive feeling, with many offers of help, and we hope that everybody went away feeling inspired and empowered about local food and local community. A big thankyou to everybody who came along on the day, and to those who helped make the open day such a success.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tomorrow's Open Day.

Just a quick reminder to everybody that tomorrow, Saturday 13th, is the community farm Open Day, from 1 till 4pm. We will be unveiling our newly completed classroom (see previous post), taking guided tours of the farm, taking questions and suggestions, selling salad bags in the polytunnel, and giving the community a chance to meet the Bosavern Community Farm team and catch up with happenings down on the farm. Drinks and cakes will be available in the farmhouse kitchen, children's activities are taking place in the workshop/shelter, chickens will be pecking around in the paddock (and can be sponsored for the "poultry" sum of £6), and weather-permitting there will be a second-hand bookstall in the Dutch barn!

So come on down and enjoy the afternoon (the forecast is dry!) - everyone is welcome.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Classroom Progress.

As part of our endeavour to attract school groups onto the farm, where they can learn about food-growing, farming, nature conservation, and food-webs, we have been renovating one of the outbuildings to become a classroom. It is upstairs overlooking the farmyard and several of the fields, and is a lovely bright room, with a south-facing window.
Adam fitting one of the new windows.
The space created will not just be a classroom for school groups, but has the capacity to host workshops, displays, training courses, and other events. It may well be used for the first time tomorrow when St. Just Primary School make their first visit to the farm - if not we will certainly use it on our Farm Open Day on Saturday 13th. The room is a welcome addition to our increasing capacity to attract visitors and volunteers to the farm.
Leo helping to install the new handrails.
The granite steps leading to the classroom have been scrubbed clean of moss, and new handrails erected for safety, thanks to Adam and Leo. Adam has also installed two new windows. Today, during our regular Thursday volunteering session, Lela, Alice and Willow painted the room white - it now looks great and ready to recieve visitors, so many thanks for everybody's help, as always.
Alice, Lela and Willow adding a second coat of paint to the classroom walls.
We believe that the more people who come along to the farm to lend a hand, or simply to look around, the better. The number of volunteers who come along on Thursdays and Saturdays is steadily growing, and the farm continues to take shape. We are very excited about school-groups starting to visit the farm, where we hope to help them get involved in growing the food they eat, and connecting with the land and landscape.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jumble Sale this Saturday.

Please don't forget to come along to St. Just Women's Institute Hall this coming Saturday morning between 10am and 12 noon, to support our fundraising event in aid of the community farm. We are still collecting items for sale, so please drop them into the farmhouse this week, or the hall itself just before the sale on Saturday morning. Many thanks.

Countryfile postponed.

Apologies to those of you who watched Countryfile on Sunday expecting to see the wild food forage footage. We found out just before it was due to be aired that this part of the programme has been postponed to a future date, as yet unspecified. The original intention was to cut the day's footage down to just 8 minutes, but the producers decided it needed more airtime than this. We hope to be aired sometime in November, and will keep you up to date once we know ourselves.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cornishman article.

Turn to page 14 of this week's Cornishman newspaper and you'll find a half-page article about the community farm - "Community is urged to join farm project". We have already had several phone calls from people willing to come along and volunteer, so many thanks to the Cornishman for the publicity, and especially to Lesley for writing the article and taking the photo!
Three volunteers plus Hugh painting one of the chicken sheds.

Don't count your chickens.

With great disappointment we have to announce that the "imminent" arrival of our first flock of 100 chickens has been indefinitely postponed. We were due to take delivery of the birds on Wednesday afternoon, but the company who were supposed to supply them phoned in the morning, to say that they didn't in fact have 100 birds to send us. Not a single one. So after two and a half weeks of hard work by volunteers and staff, preparing one of the chicken sheds, erecting 130m of 1.8m high (6 feet) fencing, mowing the paddock, buying feed, etc etc., we don't have a bird or an egg to show for it. This is a big blow to everybody involved in the farm, and to the local community who were looking forward to buying fresh organic free-range eggs.

We do hope to be able to source a flock in the near future.

Many many thanks to everybody who came along and worked hard preparing for the chickens - your labour was not in vain, as everything is now ready for the hens when we are able to find some.
Building supporting angles for the strainer posts.
Starting to put the wire on, and hang the gate.
Getting the top section of chicken-wire nailed on.


Just a quick reminder to watch the BBC's Countryfile Autumn Special this Sunday evening (October 31st) at 18:30, with footage of the food forage filmed recently at Perranuthnoe.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chickens imminent!

One hundred of our feathered friends are due to arrive in their new home on Wednesday afternoon, which means we have to have their shed and paddock ready by then. We are on track to do so, with some finishing fox-proofing touches to make, and a second set of perches to build. There will be 3 or 4 of us working on this tomorrow, Tuesday, so if anybody wants to lend a hand we would be very grateful. Call in to the farm any time after 10am, and come and find us in the chicken field. Many thanks, Hugh.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Preparing for chickens.

All systems are go on the farm at the moment, as we prepare for the imminent arrival of our first flock of laying hens. We hope to have them on site and living in their new home by the end of this week. This means, as always, lots of hard work getting the farm ready to receive them, and making their new home as comfortable as possible for them.
Inside one of the sheds before restoration.
The floor of one shed before repair.
When you see photos of how the sheds were before we got to work on them, you realise how far we've come since this time last week. One of the sheds is now habitable although some fine-tuning is needed, another is roofed and painted but needs sorting out inside, and the third we have not begun work on as yet.
Painting the middle shed, having already replaced the roof.
Replacing the scrubbed-clean floor in one of the sheds.
Having re-roofed and painted two of the sheds, next job was to drag them into place on the field, by use of a landrover. The sheds are mounted on "skids" rather than wheels, but once they got going they were surprisingly easy to manoeuvre (thanks Chris and Kirsten!). The field was divided into three, and one shed placed central in each third. Each third will be divided into two equal paddocks, to allow rotation of the hens and give the land time to recover between grazings. At present we are only going to fence one sixth of the field, being one half of one third, due to financial and time constraints.
The sheds distributed across the field.
Our chosen sixth of the field has been mowed to give the hens short grass to scratch around in. Which leaves the construction of a fox-proof fence - no mean feat when you consider we are erecting sixty 8-foot-high posts, then the chicken wire, gate for tractor access, and lastly some electric wire to help deter foxes even further.
Group of volunteers getting started on the fenceposts today.
We hope to have the fence up and working before this weekend....