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.