Friday, December 20, 2019

Tomorrow's markets

Tomorrow are the last farmer's markets before Christmas! We will have stalls at both St. Just (09:30 till 12:30) and Pendeen (10:00 til 13:00), where we will be selling our own honey in large, medium and small jars, plus a range of seasonal vegetables, inlcuding stalks of Brussels sprouts at only £1.50 (certified organic). So please come and support us, and other local producers, by stocking up for Christmas locally.


Seb (bunching black radishes for veg boxes in the above photo) came from France to help us for a few weeks - many thanks Seb for your involvement on the farm, and have a great Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2019

St. Just Christmas Farmers' Market tonight

Christmas in St. Just starts tonight, with the walking nativity (scheduled for 18:15 in the Plen-an-Gwary, or the Miners Chapel if wet), Christmas lights turn-on with Pendeen Silver Band at 19:00 in Market Square, and the Christmas market in the W.I. Hall from 17:00 till 20:00 with mulled wine and live music. We will have a stall at the market tonight, and again in the morning 09:30 till 12:30 for the usual Farmers' market, so please come and support us and the other local tradespeople.

Recent improvements

Our new array of veg box shelving across the back wall of the packing shed, built out of reclaimed tonne-boxes. The back wall was painted (with a waterproof tanking slurry) by local Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme volunteers.

We've struggled for nine years with poor visibility for our farm entrance, so our new entrance with reduced hedge height (down to 1m above road height) is a great improvement.

And better visibility downhill too.

The new "Seedbox" workshop-cum-classroom-cum-whatever in the packing shed, with heating, lighting and wheelchair access. It had its first use at the Winter Fair, and held its first workshop this Wednesday (weaving with the Roaming Rag Company).

A new skylight panel fitted above the farm shop entrance to replace the old broken leaky one.
Many thanks to Rebuild Southwest for leading on most of these projects, and all our other volunteers who leant hands when needed (in particular lowering the hedge and building the shelves).

Today's veg boxes

Today we put together 51 veg boxes, which is a new record (Chris is currently out delivering most of them around West Penwith - St. Just, Pendeen, St. Ives, Gulval, Penzance, Newlyn, Mousehole, St. Buryan, Sennen, and places in between). This week they contain a selection from (depending on size and personal taste) - savoy cabbage, swede, coriander, leeks, Ambo potatoes, carrots, beetroot, chard, kale, and radishes. Next week there will be stalks of Brussels sprouts (and maybe parsnips) - hooray!!
Volunteers helping to pack our veg boxes.

Winter Fair

On Sunday 8th December we enjoyed a very special Winter Fair here at the farm, centred in the re-vamped packing shed, and with a high turn-our despite the bad weather (maybe we're just used to it by now?). Our new entrance into Home Field was fully operational just in time, as was the Seedbox multifunctional space where Kate and Willow ran craft workshops, and our packing shed was organised and looking wonderfully festive (the best it's ever looked).
Pendeen Silver Band playing carols in the packing shed.

The Christmas market in the packing shed, with eight traders and fundraisers.

Pendeen Junior Band began the musical entertainment.
Many thanks go to Pendeen Junior Band, Pendeen Silver Band, and the True Foxes for providing live music through the afternoon, Shelley for organising the day, Andy for providing great food, all the stallholders, and all the volunteers who helped prepare for and run the fair - thank you all!

Steve, Amelie, and Marie

British Steve and Belgians Amelie and Marie have all wwoofed with us recently, and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work and community spirit whilst being here on the farm with us.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Gate-posts for our new entrance

Work on our new entrance is continuing, sited in a safer location further up the hill, with a new car-park for five cars. Yesterday we relocated a pair of old granite gate-posts, neither of which had been used for several years (one of them was even lying down in the yard), to flank the new entrance, and today the tarmac section was completed. We hope the new entrance will be in use by Christmas.

Mink! - Or polecat.

Last Tuesday was the first ever discovery of mink on the farm, when a body was found in the field above where are chickens currently live. Cause of death unknown. 50cm from nose to tip of tail, and with a fine set of sharp teeth. This could explain the number of disembowled chickens we have found in recent months, and these attacks will hopefully now stop - unless there are more mink in the area.

Update on 3rd July 2021 - we now realise that this was not a mink but a polecat, which is native but rare.

National Tree Week

As part of National Tree Week, on Monday 25th November we planted the first 50 of 200 native trees planned for this winter. The first 50 were planted by local volunteers around our new car-park and entrance, to screen the car-park whilst providing a food source for birds. We planted blackthorn, hawthorn, dogwood, guelder rose, goat willow, and redcurrants.

The redcurrants were grown on-site and were extra to the 50 trees. Keep an eye on Facebook for future community tree-planting days this winter, when the other 150 will go in. You can listen to the Radio Cornwall recording of the tree planting by clicking on the link below.

Veg boxes for Friday 29th November

This weeks' veg boxes will hopefully include:-
Small £6 box - Crown Prince squash, leeks, kale, potatoes, and carrots (see above).
Standard £10 box - all the above, plus celeriac, cauliflower and spring greens.
Please contact us on 788454 or to find out more.

St. Just Yuletide Fair

Rex, our long-term volunteer from Holland, running our stall.
Sunday 24th November saw St. Just's Yuletide Fair take place in the Sports Centre, with more than 80 stalls selling their wares, plus live music from school choirs and youth bands, a chance to meet Santa, and a cafe, with all proceeds from the event going to local children's charities.

Winter Fair

We will be holding a Winter Fair here at the farm on Sunday 8th December from midday till 3:30pm.
  • Stalls with crafts, plants, food, information, and fundraising.
  • Our farm shop with some Christmas gift ideas.
  • Farm Christmas hamper orders being taken.
  • Farm tours.
  • Meet the chickens and help collect eggs.
  • Live music from Pendeen Junior Band, Pendeen Silver Band, plus a folk duo.
  • The pop-up Cowshed Cafe.
  • A campfire (weather permitting).
  • Plus the unveiling of our new "Seedbox" multipurpose space inside the packing shed.
Everybody is welcome, so please bring along friends and family!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rebuild Southwest phase 2

Desperately attempting to make the cob building weatherproof before the onset of winter proper.

The main section of damage to the packing shed roof repaired.

Creating our new space within the packing shed, to be a multifunctional room, but as yet unchristened!
Rebuild Southwest have returned with a team of workers to undertake several tasks around the farm during a second phase of two weeks. Today they have relocated two of our granite gateposts to flank the new farm entrance into Home Field, and they are also at work on a new "box" inside the packing shed where we can hold workshops etc...; emergency running repairs to our cob barn; packing shed roof repairs; completing the new entrance way (hopefully); and digging a nature pond below the allotments. There are 3 days left out of the 10, and a lot has been achieved, with more to go...

Ole, Stella and Franca - 3 recent wwoofers

Ole, from Germany, planting watercress in Valentine.

Stella, from London, bunching carrots for veg boxes.

Franca, from Germany, packing veg boxes on our emergency ladder-shelves.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

65 new hens

On Wednesday 13th we collected 65 new point-of-lay hens from Blakes Poultry Supplies near Launceston, and introduced them (in between sleet and hail storms) into shed 3 along with our 55 old hens from 2017. They have settled in well (this is the first time we've put new in with old, to see how the results are, to inform future strategy) and have already started laying. This should increase egg supply over the Christmas period, when everybody wants more eggs but hens lay very little due to low daylight hours.

Clearing the end of the packing shed

Every farm, like every house, needs a place to store things, and we are blessed with a large packing shed (formerly a cow shed when it was a dairy farm) for this. But as the farm develops and our operations expand we need more space. We now have a plan for the far end of our packing shed, so yesterday a team of volunteers cleared the area, and organised the stuff that we found there, accumulated over many years - a potter's wheel, a weaving loom, a collapsable stretcher, a TV aerial, several crates of reject potatoes, old plaster board, a sheep crush, a polytunnel cover, some pig fencing, crates of empty bottles, severa, windows and doors, two kitchen sinks, old tiles, a large bee sculpture, a chicken shed, old chains, stacks of chairs, and archaic egg incubator, two compost bins etc....

And after - with Bruno, Jun, Rex and Kim.
This particular winter task is always a cathartic experience, and a good indoor job to do on wet cold days. The stuff has been disseminated amongst our other outbuildings, where hopefully it will be put to good use, though plenty has ended up destined for the local recycling centre.


Bruno picking some of the few swedes that we managed to grow this year.

Bruno heading to the chicken sheds at dawn with a wheelbarrow of feed.
Bruno, from Brittany, had his final day of volunteering on the community farm yesterday, before heading to London overnight en-route to his winter job in the Alps. Thank you Bruno for your help during your time with us, and have a good ski season! We hope to host you again some day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Veg boxes for Friday 15th November.

In this weeks' veg boxes we are planning to have:-
Jack-be-little squash,
the last of our cucumbers for this season (one or two depending on size),
either Ambo or Maris Peer potatoes,
kale (whichever variety is most plentiful),
a bunch of carrots,
and a cabbage.
The small boxes (£6 each) will have the first 6 items, and the standard boxes (£10 each) will have all 9 items (and 2 of the squash instead of one).

Storm damage

A section of the packing shed roof blown away. Thankfully this happened on a Saturday morning after all but 3 of our veg boxes had already been collected/delivered on the Friday.

Barometer reading on Sunday 4th November.

Waterlogging inside the polytunnels.

And outside too.
Over night from Friday 1st to Saturday 2nd November the first big storm of the winter hit us, but it wasn't deemed important enough to be given a name, although it was only the second time in nine years that part of the packing shed roof has been lifted off. That was the worst damage, the rest of it is waterlogging out on the farm, making some work difficult, and ensuring we keep our tractor out-of-action for the time being. The most used paths and tracks around the farm are now ankle-deep in liquid mud, and as I write this in our new office, the first sleet of the winter has battered into us just as the land was beginning to dry out a little....

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tomorrow's veg boxes

Tomorrow we are providing 49 veg boxes to local people, so we have done the bulk of the harvesting today, with a little bit to do in the morning, plus the fresh artisan bread and local organic milk to go in.
A wheelbarrow full of various cabbages from our market garden.

Rex harvesting leeks, and Ben black Tuscan kale behind, in the market garden.

Bruno hunting for swedes in one of the outer fields.
Our veg boxes this week contain a selection from leeks, onions, potatoes, rocoto chillies, swedes, cucumber, big tomatoes, gem squash (a South African variety - small round and dark green), cabbages, and radishes (both red and black). All grown here on the community farm without the use of chemicals.

Shaun, Noelle, and Divya

Three of our WWOOF volunteers left the farm this morning to head either home or to their next farm - many thanks to Divya from London, Shaun from Essex, and Noelle from Colorado for all your help during your time with us, and good luck for your futures.
Divya harvesting the first leeks of the season from our market garden.

Shaun and Noelle in the farmhouse kitchen.


Leona, from Germany, came to help us for two weeks, and left last Saturday to return home - many thanks Leona for your help whilst at the farm, and good luck for your future.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Four Acres restored

Four Acres used to be our best hay meadow until it was ploughed up and used for crops, but this year we have restored it as a hay meadow. This involved rotovating and rolling it in the spring to make it level, then allowing the native seed-bank to do its own work over the summer, and this week it has been "topped" to leave a short sward of grass and wildflower species, which will hopefully mean it is ready to be cut as hay or fodder next summer.


We would all like to thank Marta, from Madrid, for her help on the farm during her recent stay as a WWOOF volunteer, and wish her all the best on her next farm.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Rebuild Southwest

We have just had a team from Rebuild Southwest working at the farm for two weeks, which has massively advanced three of our projects for this winter:-
1 - building a new safer entrance into the farm;
2 - creating a new farm office away from the farmhouse; and
3 - creating new and improved volunteer accommodation in the farmhouse itself.
Working on the new safer farm entrance.
Spreading gravel in the new parking area.
Decorating the new farm office.

Fitting double-glazed windows and electric sockets in the new farm office.

Converting the old farm office into a new volunteer dormitory.

Working in the new dormitory.
None of these projects are completed yet, but thanks to the efforts of Rebuild Southwest they are much closer to being so -

Harvesting squash

On Tuesday 15th October we harvested this year's squash patch, which amounted to 435kg of squash (exactly twice our 2018 yield, but still only one third of our massive 2017 yield). Most of the squash are Crown Prince and Jack-be-Little, with a few Gem, Turk's Turban, Green Hokkaido and a smattering of other varieties thrown in. These will be on sale in our farm shop and at markets priced at £2 per kg by the end of next week. Our squash are all good for eating, chosen for flavour rather than ease of carving - they can be carved of course but please eat the flesh too!
Our squash patch ready for harvesting.
Weighing wheelbarrows of squash into the polytunnel.

Part of the squash harvesting arranged in the polytunnel for curing and storage.
Thank you to Noelle and Shaun for harvesting all the squash.