Harvest Begins

As I write, it is a beautiful evening, the sun has just emerged from behind a cloud and there is a golden bright sunset. It seems we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  It is not before time too as we fast approach the summer solstice.                                           

Food has always brought people together. Two generations ago the act of bringing in the hay was a sociable event, square bales were loaded onto trailers, picnics or sandwiches were often had in the fields followed by a cold drink at the end of the day, chat and talk and craic was had by all.

In our continued march towards bigger more intensive agricultural systems the people have all but disappeared from the fields having been replaced by machines.  This it seems is the price of progress and maybe to a certain extent it is necessary, but it makes me a little sad. Maybe it is nostalgia?  As a kid having brought in that hay, I remember the sun and the sandwiches and the people. But when I think a little more, I also remember the blisters and the terrible heat and scratchiness of having to heave those bales to the very top of a galvanised hay shed, those bit’s I do not miss.

The machines on our farm facilitate the work and we do everything we can to avoid having to hand weed vegetables rows that are nearly half a kilometre in length.  That job is no fun and where there is a smarter way to do something, we take it.

Finding solutions to repetitive work is a must on small-scale mixed organic vegetable farms and we do, but we still have people in the fields every day and our farm is active and alive with people, vegetables, and biodiversity. 

We have been working very hard over the last six months to get the farm to the point it is at now.

Even so it seems that there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with the work. Everything has reached a crescendo and the list has been growing, what to prioritise during those rare dry days has become a source of pressure behind the eyes, we can only just keep doing the first things first.

The work always gets done the question is can we get it done in time? If we miss a sowing date, we don’t get second shot, we never regain those lost days, and the plants may struggle to reach maturity.

It’s a relatively small window and for the farm to reach it’s breakeven point and that’s all we ever hope for, we can afford to miss very few of those planting dates.

Here we are on the cusp on July and the list of produce harvested from the farm is steadily growing week on week. The first fresh bunches of beetroot, our own kale, salad, lettuce red and green, spinach and chard are ready. The cucumbers are a week away and the new potatoes 2-3 weeks away, the first of our own tomatoes are nearly there too, all we need is the sun.

Then there is the irony that as we come into our own produce as the farm finally starts to crank up a gear and we start to harvest the freshest produce we face a downturn in orders due to summer holidays and this year the impact is even greater as the country opens.

I would ask if you can at all, continue to support our farm, help get us through the summer months, we rely on your support to keep doing what we do.

So as the sun sets, there is no hay to bring in, but I look forward to a dry bright day tomorrow as we have big day of harvest before us.

Thank you for your continued support!

Kenneth

Miso Aubergine with Rice, Beans & Greens

We have a new product in our grocery section that is absolutely delicious. These sachets of umami pastes which are basically organic miso with added ingredients like ginger, garlic and chilli. They are flavour bombs and we love them as a marinade for aubergine in this simple, hearty supper. The paste can be used to marinade skewers of tofu and mushrooms for the barbecue too, or even as a stunning broth base for a light miso soup. How would you use them?

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • rice for two (I bring 1/2 a mug of brown rice with 1 mug of water to a boil in a pan with the lid on, then turn down to the lowest setting and simmer until the rice has absorbed all water)
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 tbsp umami paste
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves – sliced
  • 1 bunch of rainbow chard – stalks separated and sliced
  • 1 tin of black beans – drained
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C and get some brown rice on to cook – see ingredients list for my super-simple method.
  2. Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and score the cut side deeply with a small, sharp knife. Spread a tbsp of umami paste onto each half and make sure you get it into all the cuts. Place the aubergines in a small roasting dish in the oven to cook while you prepare the greens and beans.
  3. Separate the stalks from the rainbow chard and slice them. They take longer to cook than the delicate green leaves. Put them in a pan with the vegetable oil and sliced garlic. Sauté until just starting to soften.
  4. Then add the drained tin of black beans to the pan and turn the heat off until the rice and aubergine are cooked through.
  5. When the aubergine is soft (this usually takes around 20 minutes), remove it from the oven and sprinkle it with sesame seeds. Return the dish to the oven for 5 minutes to toast the seeds.
  6. Meanwhile turn the heat back on under the beans and add the greens and a splash of soy sauce (around 2 tbsp). Stir and wilt the greens. Then serve.
  7. Divide the rice between two bowls. Add the garlicky beans and greens and a half of the aubergine to each bowl. Enjoy as it is or with a side of kimchi.

Tomato & Greens Chickpea Curry

This simple curry is a brilliant way to pack in all those gorgeous seasonal greens we have been harvesting at the farm recently. It works equally well with spinach, chard, kale or even spring green cabbages. It’s a regular feature on our mid-week menu at home. Gotta love a simple meal that can be thrown together from a few affordable ingredients – which is also such a flavour bomb! Tweak the spices to suit your taste.

Serve it with wholesome brown rice to make it a meal. Our bulk bags of rice come in compostable bags, why not add some to your next fruit and veg order?

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4 generously)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 4 cloves of diced garlic
  • 3 tbsp curry powder (or use a mix of your favourite curry spices)
  • 1 thumb of fresh ginger, grated
  • red chillies to taste, chopped
  • 2 tins of chopped tomato
  • 2 tins of chickpeas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 200g or more of spinach/chard/spring greens
  • cooked rice, lime wedges and fresh coriander to serve.

Method

  1. In a large pan/pot, sauté the diced onion and garlic in the oil over a medium/high heat for about 10 minutes – or until they start to caramelise, soften and turn golden brown.
  2. Add the fresh ginger, curry spices and chilli and stir to quickly toast them before adding any liquid.
  3. Add the two tins of tomatoes and the drained chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper and simmer together until rich and delicious.
  4. About 5-10 minutes before serving, rinse and chop the greens then fold them into the curry. Once they are sufficiently wilted, serve in bowls with rice and lime and coriander to lift and brighten the curry.