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....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Polytunnel Update

Last Saturday we finished bordering the final bed in the polytunnel, again using old tiles from the pig shed roof, so all the beds are now ready for sowing and planting (except for the central bed still lacking stepping-stones, could be a task for this afternoon?). Sowings of salads have now all germinated and are coming along well, as you can see below.
mizuna seedlings (an oriental brassica grown for its leaves)
radish seedlings
rocket seedlings
nasturtium seedlings (the flowers are delicious in salads)
swiss chard seedlings

Jumble Sale

A date for your diary - we are holding a jumble sale to raise funds for the farm, in the Women's Institute hall in St Just, on Saturday 6th November, 10am till midday. Please call in on the day to purchase items! If you want to donate goods to be included in the sale, or as raffle prizes, please drop them off at the farmhouse before Friday 5th, or at the hall before 10am on Saturday morning. Please feel free to bake cakes and buns and bread for sale. Many thanks!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Planting onion and garlic sets.

On our most recent volunteer day, Thursday 7th October, a small group of volunteers prepared a bed and planted autumn sets of onions and garlic. Autumn sets spend winter in the ground, giving them a head start for earlier ripening at the end of the following spring. We planted "radar" onions and "flavor" garlic, both from the Garden Organic catalogue.
Sally and Rowan putting onion sets in the ground.
Planting was the easy part - hard work came first, digging the bed over and taking out all the dock roots (hopefully!). The weeds had been cut three weeks earlier, and old roofing felt from the chicken sheds had been laid over the soil to deprive the weeds and seeds of light. After planting the sets, the bed was surrounded by chicken wire to keep rabbits out, and covered with netting to keep birds away. Now it looks like Fort Knox. Even so, some onion sets have been dug up and nibbled - our bet is by mice. Any ideas or suggestions?
The bed ready for planting, with experimental roofing-felt mulching behind.

Countryfile Forage.

On Wednesday 6th October, two of the Bosavern Community Farm team were chosen to take part in a wild food forage as part of the BBC's Countryfile programme. Hugh and Alice spent the day at Peranuthnoe with 13 other foragers, plus Caroline from Fat Hen (, James Wong the presenter, and a small film crew.
Group of foragers and film crew in the fields.
The first plant we foraged was black mustard, with its intense wassabi flavour. We followed this up with laver seaweed from rocks on the beach, with which to make laver bread. Then came sea-beet, a relation of beetroot, with its delicious spinach-like leaves; sorrel, of the dock family, with its strong lemon flavour; rock samphire, from the carrot family, with its salty turpentine taste; blackberries of course, the best known of all wild foods; and alexanders, a close relation of celery.
A basket of alexander leaves.
After foraging, we returned to Caroline's house to cook up a storm, being a supper for 15 people incorporating the plants we had picked earlier in the day. Supper was delicious, the highlight being a risotto packed full of green leaves and herbs from the hedgerows and cliffs.
Caroline in her farmhouse kitchen preparing supper.
Foraging for food is an ancient tradition that is thankfully becoming more popular, as people realise that there is fantastic food out there to be had for free, and packed full of goodness. It's very important, however, to make sure that you are 100% certain what species you are picking and eating, as some common plants are deadly poisonous. It is well worth going foraging with a professional ecologist like Caroline to teach you what is edible and what is not - I also recommend the book "Food for Free" by Richard Mabey.
Far more scenic than a supermarket aisle.
It's also important to steer clear of areas recently sprayed with pesticides, or adjacent to main roads. Try to take just what you need, leaving some behind for other foragers and for wildlife, and so as not to irreparably damage the plant. The most important thing though is to get out there and do it, as collecting food from the wild is very rewarding, enjoyable, and, of course, delicious!

The Countryfile show will air on 31st October.

Friday, October 1, 2010

More raised beds in the polytunnel.

A small group of willing volunteers joined us on the farm yesterday, the last day of September, to line the raised beds on the western side of our polytunnel. The same techniques were used as on the eastern side last week - lining the back of the beds next to the plastic with old wooden roof beams (reclaimed from the abandoned pig sheds), lining the front of the beds along the path with old tiles (also from the pig sheds), and placing stepping stones on the beds to allow access to all parts of the bed without standing on the soil (using granite stones reclaimed from a fallen wall, scrubbed free of weed seeds beforehand).
Volunteers finishing the tiling along the front of the bed.
The tiles make a highly attractive feature, defining the paths from the beds (which are now a no-standing zone to avoid soil compaction), adding thermal mass to the polytunnel, and allowing us to add plenty of organic matter to the beds without it spilling onto the paths or pressing against the plastic. The beds should now never need standing on again, or digging.
The western side of the polytunnel raised and ready for sowing.
As usual, many thanks to everybody who helped with this project. Without our volunteers much of our work would not be possible - you are very much appreciated. If you would like to get involved, to help us develop the community farm, learn some new skills, or teach us a thing or two, please phone Hugh at the farmhouse on 01736 788454. We still have the central polytunnel bed to go!