Ann's Farm Journal

Keep up with all of our updates from the farm including what’s new in season!

Learning Something New

Learning Something New

Hello everyone,

Apologies to those customers who normally have a delivery on a Wednesday but received their box on Thursday last week. The reason for this lateness was because Bob had a prior engagement on Wednesday at seven in the evening and he ran out of time to complete his route.

Each year the Northern Real Farming Conference takes place. It runs in collaboration with the Oxford Real Farming Conference, which brings together farmers, growers, activists, researchers and policy makers. Many speakers are asked to contribute to talks and QandAs. Bob was asked to join one such event. Bob loves to give a talk and he was asked to contribute on how farm businesses are ‘adapting to build environmental and financial resilience in a time of change’.

Basically, what changes have occurred during COVID and how have we adapted to the situation. The talk went on for a few hours and many farmers, from large farms to small ones like ours, took part. Whenever conversations occur, no matter what the subject matter is, we always look to come away learning something new. It was good for Bob to hear how other farms have been coping during the last, nearly two years. But his ‘something learnt’ was the dock beetle! For many years Bob has taken the time and effort to remove thousands of docks from our land and he has suffered aching backs as a result. The dock beetle eats the dock and to such an extent that it doesn’t return. Who would have thought there is a beetle for that! My goodness! Always come away with new knowledge, especially something that prevents back ache!. 

We are also gaining knowledge form scientists. In the last week we sent away soil samples and leaf samples from all parts of our farm to be analysed. The results are gradually being sent back to us. So far, the leaf results are in. The leaf results are saying to us that the minerals and elements found within these leaves are slightly different from vegetable to vegetable. We are really interested in seeing the results from the soil analysis from each tunnel and field area. This we will compare to the leaf analysis and also to the last soil analysis report. The knowledge we will gain should help us provide the solution to any issues with our soil by adding any element missing from the soil. Or, it could be that we have far too much of a particular element. Knowing our soil and solving any issues the scientists discover will result in much better crops. We want to improve year on year. We want the vegetables we grow to be better and better from one year to the next. Getting the knowledge from the scientists will be new and essential to our coming seasons.

Our electric van now has a new look. It is looking pretty cool. It has its very own number plate to match the van’s occupation. It now reads - ‘Hexhamshire Organics For Veg‘ - well that is what the registration letters indicates! See the pic above to see how it is displayed. 

Last week, the lovely Lucy was on holiday and was a huge miss, especially as we had our second biggest week ever. 

Graham has been making a new raised bed to the side of polytunnel ten. He is amazing as he just knows what to do when it comes to all things practical. This area is likely to become another outside herb bed in the New Year. 

Chris spent his last two days of this year with us by, amongst other things, laying the paths with wood chip mulch. Mulch is very important in water retention and providing a good weed suppression cover. Plus there are lots of elements within the mulch which will slowly release into the soil and then the crops. As for Chris, he is spending the winter snowboarding, as you do! He will be back in the Spring season. Thank goodness, as he is part of our dream team.  

Well this part of the dream team is going to say cheerio for now. Off to get more knowledge.

But before i sign off below is a recipe from Helen, one of our lovely customers, using some of our Pork & Veg.

Have a great week,


Pork Cassoulet with Neeps & Tatties

Basically a lot of your veg (onions, garlic, leek, celery, a bit of swede, fennel, a cooking apple) chopped and sweating in a shallow pan (no lid needed except perhaps for the sweating) with bay leaves, juniper, pink peppercorns. Then add parsley sage rosemary and thyme.

Add some precooked butter beans and cannalini beans, a couple of cartons of Napoli chopped tomatoes and let it simmer a bit. 

When thickened a bit add a glass of cider.

Cut the pork into about a dozen pieces, each with a bit of skin and sit the pieces in the cassoulet skin side up then into a medium hot oven. 

After about 45 mins to 1 hour the pork is cooked, the skin is fairly crunchy and the cassoulet has that lovely umami flavour and  slightly burnt around the edges.

If you want the skin like crackling put it under the grill. 

"Clapshot" (your neeps and tatties, bashed with cream and butter, chopped chives, nutmeg, salt and pepper).

Sounds yummy, thanks Helen.