Most of the land that we farm is for the production of our certified Biodynamic vegetables. Our approach to what we grow is based foremost on the eating enjoyment.
We have always grown truly seasonal British garden vegetables. We find that vegetables grown at the right time of year, without controlled interference taste far superior to “out of season” equivalents. We believe that vegetables grown outside in fresh air, being open to the elements produce the character and flavour in the vegetables. There is a richer, deeper colour to the food, the texture is turgid, strong and has a glow of vitality. Apart from the one greenhouse, all our crops are grown outside in the fields.
Our season is a little shorter due to our altitude (700 feet above sea level), and our heavy soil that takes longer to be warmed up by the Sun and become workable in the spring.
We have spent many years researching and testing different varieties of vegetables. We raise all our own plants from seeds that are all Organic and some Biodynamic. We would like to buy more biodynamic seed, but the varieties in the seed catalogues, we find do not tend to be very exciting and we are driven by the taste element for what we grow. However we have some firm biodynamic seed favourites.
We grow over 300 varieties of vegetables over the course of the year. In one season we can have 30 varieties of lettuce from the spring butter heads, hot weather spearhead lettuce, and cool weather varieties. The difference in texture and flavour is hugely varied and pleasing on the eye as well as the taste buds. Peas and beans are chosen according to their suitability to the time of year. The best are those sown from the beginning of spring with the last sowing mid may. We try and sow peas every two weeks to attain a young tender crop throughout the season. This can involve about four different varieties to produce that quality desired.
Herefordshire is one of the country’s larger potato growing areas, this again is partly due to the higher altitude where there is a constant breeze, lower temperatures and higher than average rainfall in summer months. This helps to prevent disease that potatoes are very prone to, and can often destroy crops. We choose our potato varieties for their different uses and their old fashioned flavours. These do include some more commercially grown varieties, as they are very good, but also some lower yielding more risky, disease prone varieties, but they are worth the risks because they are very delicious and have specific uses in cooking. With good practice and regular applications of horsetail tea we have nearly always kept the dreaded potato blight away.
In the summer our large greenhouse is the home to soft growth salad leaves, cucumbers and tomatoes. Tomato growing is a favourite of ours; we have found some great varieties and tend to stick to those, however each year we cannot resist trying a new one. Normally we grow eight or so varieties, each being different to the other and again having different dishes where they shine out. A freshly picked, warm tomato salad is one of our favourite summer lunches.
Green leafed vegetables are amongst our most popular crops. We apply generous amounts of 15 month old composted cow manure to the land for these hungry vegetables. Our cooler wetter climate is ideal for the brassica family. The greens we produce have sweetness to them that we are very pleased with. What this is actually down to is probably a combination of many things, but mostly the application of the biodynamic compost preparations and the biodynamic 500 and 501 sprays (see biodynamic section). The high level of silica in our soil also is a main contributor to their success. We make all our own Biodynamic preparations from plants grown here on the farm. We use and apply them regularly throughout the season, which produces better tasting vegetables.
As with all of the food that we grow, every Friday we hand pick and harvest the very best that we have and Jane drives a van full up to London that evening, to sell the following morning. On the journey she visits Global Organic Markets in Stroud. Here she selects other seasonal food grown by Organic and Biodynamic producers from Europe. We do this to offer a wider choice of food that we are unable to grow ourselves with our climate, and to promote and support other small farms that we believe produce food of real quality and integrity.
Our prices reconcile the real costs of growing real food to a high standard, and we believe them to be of true value.