I started writing this newsletter right at the end of last year, and then never sent it! I wanted to say a big thank you to those of you who have ordered our organic veg bags through the year. We have made 4134 deliveries since the end of March 2020!
The year started off in a fairly familiar way - the familiar Spring anxieties…will it dry up enough to allow us to plant the early crops? It did, and we sowed according to our finely tuned sowing plans. Until the end of March, when we lost around 90% of our customers. We had salad growing in the ground and had planted the first crops, but had nobody to sell them to…
The obvious option was to start a veg bag delivery scheme (something that my parents started to do around 30 years ago, and something that I vowed I would never do as I saw what happened to my parents through all of the work associated with it). So, that’s what we did. March is not the best time of year to start a veg box scheme, but we supplemented what we had with bought in produce from other larger organic growers in the South West. Within three days we had over 150 customers and within a week we were delivering veg bags around Lyme, Seaton, Axminster and all the surrounding areas.
We (Ellen mostly) also quickly worked to change our cropping and sowing plans to add more diversity to what we grow and ensure consistent supply of veg for the bags. Our new trainees, Hester and Lucy were amazingly patient and understanding with our quick change of business and our slightly chaotic and hectic approach to work during that change. Emma also joined us last year to help us with the sowing, planting, weeding, harvesting and packing, and has been an amazing help too. Rob helped us with deliveries whilst he was on furlough and we are massively grateful to him for that. Zoe also joined us to help with deliveries and somehow grasped our chaotic approach to the box scheme and took on the deliveries of some rounds with a beautifully organised approach! Meanwhile in the garden Ellen managed everything and took huge amounts of stress off our shoulders - we will massively miss you this year Ellen (who has excitingly just had a baby!!)
So, by the end of 2020 we were all feeling completely shattered and looking forward to slumping on the sofa for a couple of weeks - which is pretty much what we did.
January has been a good month in the garden - getting things sorted for the year ahead, a few tentative sowings, and lots of tunnel washing, and it stayed relatively dry until the very end - when it got very wet!
We have had some excting news that we have received some funding through the Landworkers’ Alliance and the National Lottery which will enable us to make our veg more accessible to everyone, especially those on lower incomes. We will also be working with Chris (Old Dairy Kitchen) to deliver an exciting new programme that we will be working on over the next few months to engage more people in how to cook and grow veg. We will be looking to link up with local groups and organisations who work with marginalised groups and those on lower incomes, so please get in touch if you have ideas/contacts.
We have also just started to accept Healthy Start vouchers, so anybody who is eligible for these can use them to get veg from us - we will also discount our veg bags for anyone who is using these vouchers to make them more affordable).
New baker and option to add bread for Tuesday deliveriesAs Chris is not regularly baking, we will be supplying bread from Surya at Wellbread in Tytherleigh from now. This is also available to Teusday customers as well as Friday customers. He bakes with all organic ingredients and offers wholemeal, white or granary sourdough loaves. You can add this to your veg bag as an extra (or just give us an email if you would like to add it to your order).
Don’t forget you can also add other extras to your order like onions, potatoes and extra salad if you wish.
New online ordering system coming soonWe are very excited about almost being ready to launch our new, much simpler and user friendly online shop very soon. It will make our lives much less stressful, and hopefully yours too!
Continuing the veg bags for a little longer…We were planning to stop the veg bags for 6-8 weeks from the end of February, but have decided to try and continue into March as long as we can get good quality veg from other organic producers in Devon. Sadly the cafes and restaurants who we usually supply will probably still be closed through March, so we will have plenty of salad, and as long as we can supplement this with other seasonal organic veg from the other producers that supply us we will continue the bags.
We will keep you posted if we have to stop deliveries for a few weeks.
A surprise for one of our customers next weekChef Tom Hunt who came to the farm in 2019 to cook and take photos with Jenny Zarins for his book “Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet” has kindly given us a copy of his book for us to offer to one of our customers. All of next week’s deliveries will get a postcard in their veg bag, and one of these postcards will have a comment on the back letting you know if you have won the book. Let us know if you get this, and we will deliver the book the following week.
In the meantime here is a recipe from tom’s book…
Ashley has been running Trill Farm Garden since 2010 with his partner Kate. Ellen is the Senior Grower and Seed Coordinator at Trill Farm Garden.