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“The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible." Lady Eve Balfour

Time to write a newsletter I know but what to say in it? That we have had to close all the projects and different strands of the farm business completely? That The Farm Project is on hold for who knows how long, the cafe is no longer, the day nursery is silent, the campsite, cottages, yurts and huts are all empty? The weddings and meetings and conferences and workshops are all cancelled and that we have been challenged in all aspects of our business in the last four weeks like so many other small businesses?

Yes this is all true above. BUT I am counting our blessings too. How lucky we are to have the farm. How lucky to have the dairy cows still giving us milk every day, the chickens eggs, the garden veggies. Even though it is the hungry gap in UK horticulture till June, having the tunnels means right now there is lettuce, spinach, rocket and coriander for us all. The asparagus has just begun its short 6 week season. It's loving this weather, it's in the field just beside me and I am sure I can actually see it growing. And how very lucky we are that some of our staff offered to isolate with us, 4 of whom have actually moved onto the farm at this time away from their families so we have enough of us to operate the click and collect service with minimum risk to us and to you.

We have our main inside team of 10 - you will see us when you collect. Some work 5 days, some 4 although we are open 7 days now, to keep everything fresh and the system moving. It has been a challenge changing our retail system and there have been quite a few bumps on the journey, but we now have a simple but pretty smooth system of selling. It is not sophisticated - collection times are still dictated by us, not you (unless you are a key worker) and there are some out of stocks as we do not have an electronic stock system, but more and more the orders are being fulfilled successfully.

So now we are becoming more efficient we can take more customers to keep the staff in work and the business as a whole ticking over until one day we open again. Thank you to all our encouraging, loyal and lovely customers who are ordering again and again - if it wasn't for you we wouldn't be here anymore. If you usually shop here and haven't tried the click and collect service take a look at it here
Please spread the word to your friends and neighbours. And if you were put off at the start with the slight chaos and lack of stock do try again now, we really have improved the service!

One of the things on my mind is the cafe cooks. Some have had to be furloughed along with quite a few of our students and other staff - Rich and Giles are still very much here making the bread as usual and lots of ready meals, cakes, tarts and other treats and we want to keep them here. So as a team we decided yesterday to promote the cafe food section on the website and took up the suggestion of a very regular cafe customer to get us all to suggest our own favourites. We have called them TREAT NIGHTS and suggest them as a great substitute for a meal out. At least 2 are vegan, many are veggie and a couple have our farm meat as the centrepiece. All ingredients generally available from our online shop. We shall be tweeting a different one daily and you will be able to see them on the website in the next few days to get more inspiration.

Lots of hope on the farm at the moment. The potatoes and onions now planted in the field to harvest for the summer, autumn and winter in the shop. Sugar snaps, baby beets, chard, young carrots and beautiful green leaves all growing well in the tunnels for in a few weeks time.
The tomato tunnel is looking spectacular, chards growing alongside the tomato plants with calendula dotted around to attract the beneficial bugs. Aubergines, peppers and cucumbers just going into the tunnels too, all ready for the summer too. The lambing has begun, the cows are calving, even a baby has been born on the farm! to Hedge and Hannah who both work here. A BIG WELCOME to this crazy world for Reuben although none of us can cuddle him yet of course....

Let this be the time to take a long hard look at the food systems most people buy into in this country. May more people realise that the last 60 plus years trend in agriculture has been heading in completely the wrong direction; it needs to be turned around, encouraging mixed farms, extensive livestock and local production, always based on organic principles.
Dare we hope that the government, with their new agricultural policies for the UK in the making, will recognise and support what organic farmers and growers have been saying since Lady Eve Balfour co-founded the Soil Association in 1946 stated and which we seem to have forgotten - “The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible."

Lady Eve also said ”If fresh food is necessary to health in man and beast, then that food must be provided not only from our own soil but as near as possible to the sources of consumption." This matches my own feelings entirely and is why I started the farmshop - its great so many of you seem to agree.

Love
Hilary

Ps The farmshop is giving much needed food donations to The Harbour Project in Swindon. When you shop with us there is now an opportunity to add a £1 to your basket which will increase the farmshop weekly donations of food to the refugees and asylum seekers who are really struggling more than ever right now.

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Andy sowing broad - Serious social distancing

 

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