The Hungry Gap
Well! It’s been an eventful winter to say the least with the usual mix of challenges along the way. We’ve had some interesting frozen encounters; fingers, faces, beards and toes, vegetables, roads and tractors to name a few. However as we are such a small team we were able to adapt and we’re proud that we got all our deliveries out to you through these cold snaps.
This time of year is always a confusing one. The days are warming up and the bees are waking from their winter slumber. New shoots emerge, forests are filling with fresh scents, daffodils stand proud at roadsides and new seedlings are being planted out. However these next few months are the least productive in the realms of UK vegetable harvesting.
Overwintered stores of UK produce such as carrots, potatoes and onions are starting to run very low, and the overwintered crops (such as the hardy curly kale or leeks) have started to ‘bolt’; meaning they start to flower with the longer, warmer days. It’ll be a good few months before UK root vegetables are in abundance once more.
However there is loads to look forward to as spring continues. We have sugar snap peas, radishes, baby turnips, green garlic, salad, spring onions, spring greens, young tender red Russian kale and a very healthy looking patch of rhubarb, all growing steadily. We’ve also sown more flowers this year than in previous years, both edible and not, for both us to enjoy as well as the increasing diversity of insects found here on the farm.
In the last year, there has been an increasing amount of research into how not disturbing the ground can be hugely beneficial to creating healthy soil; teeming with microbes, fungi and creatures. We have decided to experiment with different techniques, taking into account our heavy clay soil, as well as our time and cost restraints.
We have been using the phrase ‘minimum tillage’; as we occasionally have been using machinery to intervene when needs must, but we are aiming to have completely undisturbed soil here at Barcombe. This is something we are all very passionate about preserving in an age when industrialisation is destroying some of the worlds most precious habitats along with a huge array of creatures and insects.
Low emission deliveries for central Brighton
Early this year we met Sam and Stefan, the founders of Recharge Cargo; a zero emissions electric bike delivery service working across central Brighton. We are now using them to deliver our vegboxes to all our customers who are in their delivery zone. We’re seeing this as the start of our move towards low emissions deliveries and minimising our impact on the environment as much as possible.
Know your farmers
We were very lucky recently to have been approached by a 4th generation(!) organic family run farm in Spain, near Malaga, looking to expand their wholesale business into the UK.
Sergio and Jasmine grow a huge array of Mediterranean veg as well as citrus fruits and avocados.
We grow and provide as much as we can from our own farm for our veg boxes, and then source as locally as possible through East Sussex and then the UK.
However through the hungry months we do need to supplement our produce to maintain variety through this scarce period. And when we do import things, it’s vital to us to have a short, clear supply chain, where everyone gets the best deal. The produce is picked from their farm and driven direct to us, so it’s as fresh as can be. We’re really excited to keep working with them, and maybe even to pay a visit!