Winter Farm News (2022)

Veggie fields

One of the things I love the most about being a veg farmer is witnessing close up, the changes of the seasons. The subtle arrival of Autumn with its fresh mornings and bright sunshine, is the best when stood in the middle of a patch of brassicas. It is a joy to see a full field of deep green leafy veg which back in the middle of the drought (desperately moving irrigation around the field whilst sweating profusely) looked like it wouldn’t make it! Hurray!

Work on the farm has largely moved away from the veg fields and on to fixing, planning and organising for next year. We are very excited to be moving all our field scale veg (these are veg fields we cultivate, plant and weed with tractors currently at Brookthorpe) to Brentlands. We have installed irrigation to each of the 9 blocks we will be growing in.

Currently most of the blocks are under mustard, which in the spring we will work in as a deterrent for the wireworm. This is the major challenge we face on these fields, as the pests eat through the tender roots of baby plants, and can cause a lot of damage. If we can get the plants established we are confident they will thrive in the rich clay soil in these fields.

Farm in the snow

The green manures we sowed in October at Oakbrook and at Hawkwood had a great start and will protect our soil over the winter and by late spring will provide lots of organic matter to work in and help rebuild the soil structure. We managed to get everything planted on time and the tunnels are full of salad and greens, which we will carefully pick over the coming months.

Thanks to our new team member Blue we have started fixing up the tunnels and hope to have them finished for next season. The next few weeks you will find the farm team staring intensely at excel spreadsheets and going a wee bit cross eyed – that’s right, it’s crop planning time! This time of year we audit the seeds we have left over from last year, review what varieties or techniques did or didn’t do well,
do a lot of maths and mostly get excited about what’s on offer on the seed websites. As a team we have learnt a lot over the last season and with the new addition of Blue we feel prepared and excited for next year.

Animal news

Cow in the field

Winter is starting to settle in on the farm and beautiful frosty mornings are here! As you are all aware, Farmer Sam has said good-bye to us and with that came some changes to the animal side of the farm.
We have dispersed our sheep flock – at least for the time being. There is still some lovely lamb and mutton available in the packing shed.

We have also said good-bye to our lovely sow Rosanne who has moved onto Ruskin Mill. Word has it she’s been well received. Nine of her piglets are still on our farm, doing mischief and huddling up in their sty on the field behind our packing shed.

Our cows and the bull are now in the barn for the winter. The young cows are out-wintering on our Hawkwood pastures and getting fed delicious hay on the field.

All in all, although winter is settled and promises a chance to breathe out, the farm team and core
group are still busy – winter projects, fundraising, tidying up and making sure the animals are warm
and well fed takes time and effort.