We originally planned to pause the veg bags for around 6-8 weeks from end of February, but as we were able to continue to buy in great quality veg from Shillingford and South Devon Organic Producers & Riverford to supplement our salad and herbs we decided to continue. We are fairly confident that we will be able to continue the veg bags now all the way through. Slowly we are getting more of our own produce coming through too - spring onoins, spring garlic (use like garlic, but can be used raw like spring onions too), perpetual spinach and chard, radish, lots of herbs as well as the salad.
New ordering system from next week
We will be starting with our new ordering system from the week after next hopefully (week commencing 12th April). We will email all of our current customers with all of the details - you will just need to check that all of your information and orders are correct and you will need to input card details. Payments will all be lilnked up with orders from then, and it will be much simpler for you to add on extras to your veg bag or to change your order. As the season progresses we will add on more and more additional extras that you can add on from week to week if you want more of something.
Eggs now available with your veg
You will be able to get eggs from us once we start with the new ordering system. Our good friends Harry and Emily run Haye Farm - just up the road, and Aaron looks after the laying hens that they move around the farm grazing the fields.
We will also have a range of Chris’s preserves from the Old Dairy Kitchen that you can add onto your orders too, along with extras of whatever we have available from the garden, and some of the main crop vegetables that we buy in from other organic producers locally such as potatoes.
Lots of spring planting
We have had a really good spring in terms of the ground drying up enough for us to prepare early beds and get them planted up. So we have planted lots of early kale, radish, salad turnips, mustards, rocket, all the peas - mangetout, podding peas, purple peas, sugarsnaps, broad beans and lots of salad plants. We have planted some early crops in the tunnels - chard, spinach, beets, radish, kohl rabi, fennel and much more, and we have lots sown for later in the year - lots of tomatoes, peppers, shallots, onions, broccoli, french beans and all sorts! We have just started hoeing the first plantings - making the most of this warmth and drying wind.
Packing shed upgrade
We finally got round to sorting out our packing shed, and also getting a coldstore put into the second room to help keep things as fresh as possible (almost all of our own produce is harvested on the day of deliveries or day before). This has made us all happy - its a lot more organised and easier to work in, and although its not quite there yet, it is a vast improvement on what it was like before!
Finishing off the "winter jobs"
I had a realisation this Spring, that the “winter job list” is always unrealistic. Much of it is only really suitable when the ground starts to dry up - digger work for sorting out drainage, putting up buildings, making tracks and the like. I often stress myself out trying to get these jobs done, and then they roll on into the spring. We have managed to get a fair bit done this winter, and one of the main things that has been in the pipeline for a couple of years is sorting out the drainage around one of the polytunnels. It has always been really wet down there, and I have known that there is a spring down there somewhere. Anyway, over the last week the ground has dried up enough to dig a trench along the edge of the polytunnel and divert the water away from the tunnel
Forming a Community Interest Company (CIC)
We 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 delivering over the next few months to engage more people in how to cook and grow veg. We have just formed a CIC (The Food Solidarity Network CIC) along with Chris and Anna from the Old Dairy Kitchen, Mariel (who is exceptional at keeping things organised and making sure we crack on with it all!) and Ellen (who is currently on parental leave from the garden.
The idea for the project will be that along with the Old Dairy Kitchen we will be providing regular boxes of produce to those who sign up for the 6 month programme. We will be offering the boxes on a sliding scale and a good proportion will be free to those on low incomes/low wealth. The boxes will initially be meals prepared by Chris from the Old Dairy Kitchen, and as the programme progresses through the year he will be teaching basic cookery skills (through a variety of ways - online, newsletters, in person etc) allowing those who sign up to build knowledge and confidence, so that by the end of the project, members will have a wide range of simple cookery schools and be able to prepare quick, simple and nutritious meals from the raw ingredients that are in the boxes. The vegetables will be from us, along with other local producer friends of ours, and other produce will all be from other local producers who the Old Dairy Kitchen already work with. The project will not only help people discover new cookery skills and ideas, but build a strong understand of the basics of cooking with good quality produce to make really great meals relatively quickly.
We see that there are major issues with our food system - one is that so much of the food system is in the power of large multinationals who drive down farm prices, and churn out food that is causing huge health problems across the country, and a broken farming community. The other is that we have all lost some of the real basic cookery skills which are part of our culture, and have become reliant on mass produced food that can be quickly prepared to feed ourselves and families, as we have less and less time to prepare home cooked meals. We hope to slowly change this starting with our local community.
We hope to launch the project in the next 6-8 weeks so will keep you posted. We will be reaching out to groups already working with people in our community who struggle financially for food, but also those who struggle with the skills to cook. We hope to bring a wide group of people from different backgrounds all together (and hopefully by the end of the year even have an in-person get together and community meal).
This is just the start of the work that we want to do with the newly formed CIC and we want it to continue for many years, bringing everyone together from our community so that we can learn and share great food together.
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.