Learning from the Past

Simone, our fantastic photographer, doing daily rounds on the farm snapped this lovely robin on our kale this week.

So much has changed in one generation.

I had the good fortune during the week to be brought on a trip back in time, back 80 years! A while back a very kind customer took the time to send me a paper clipping from 1939 featuring an article on seasonal vegetables.

Imagine food produced without artificial fertilisers, without toxic chemicals, not wrapped in plastic, produced locally. Our ancestors did not contribute to the mass of plastic pollution choking our planet. Plastic didn’t exist. My grand dad would have grown his own veggies, and if he didn’t grow it, he would have bought them in the local market or in a green grocer. Supermarkets didn’t exist back then. There was no such thing as Roundup the food was clean. Fresh produce was highly valued, it was not discounted, loss leading was not a thing.

Today we live in a world of, ‘everything and anything all the time’. It is amazing to have such choice, but there is a cost, a cost hidden behind the plastic: the chemicals, the exploitation of workers, the clearing of rainforests, the destruction of habitats, the pollution of our oceans. The list goes on. Supermarkets have played a massive part in this, but they are serving a need driven by us their customers.

Life seemed much simpler in my grandad’s day, life was certainly tougher, food was scarce at times, but the food was clean, healthy and did not leave a trail of pollution and destruction behind. We don’t need to return to a land of scarcity, but maybe a mindset change to see value in fresh food is required it is after all the building blocks that we put into our bodies every single day.

A particularly good quote that I enjoyed :

“The majority of people, unfortunately, are much too disinterested in their need for vegetables and salads to take serious steps to obtain the best value for money” “Fresh green or root vegetables….should be the staple part of every family dinner”

Being out in the rain and wind, harvesting leeks and pulling parsnips, is no fun, and it takes a certain calibre of person to persist with this work well into the winter. But this is seasonal food, this is the reality of local food production. The smell of freshly harvested parsnips, is quite frankly amazing, covered in muck they feel alive and real and you get the feeling that just by holding them in your hand you are doing something positive for the planet!

Producing good clean food, while respecting the ground beneath our feet that gives us so much deserves to be valued. Because if we don’t value and respect the earth, then there will not be much left for the next generation to enjoy. I think food production has such potential to change our lives, to change the way we eat, to change how we work, to change our world.

Here’s to learning from the past!

Kenneth

PS All our fixed boxes are plastic free and that includes our Christmas boxes * and have been since 2018!

*The Mossfield IRISH organic cheese in the bumper box is wrapped in a plastic film.

Beneath our Feet

One teaspoon of soil contains more living organisms than there are people in the world!

They are the hardworking, unsung heroes of farming. I always knew these creatures were spectacular, but I had no idea they lived for so long or could do so much. I would go so far as to say that they are as important to our food production as the bees, we ignore their welfare at our peril. Charles Darwin thought they were important enough to spend 40 years studying them! You don’t hear so much about them, you don’t see them and I suppose they aren’t quite as photogenic as the honey bee, but they are extremely important and I love them. What am I talking about?

 If you haven’t guessed already, it is the humble earthworm. Earthworms live for about 7 years, and in their lifetime will compost about 7 tonnes of organic matter! These amazing little creatures take organic matter in the soil and convert it into food and nutrients for plants, by way of the worm castings they leave behind. They help aerate the soil, which allows for better water filtration and oxygenation of the soil for other microbes to thrive. This aeration prevents water logging and increases fertility. In a nutshell we would be in a pretty bad place without our underground friends. The soil beneath our feet is thriving with a beautiful complex interconnected myriad of life.  It is a shame, that many of the methods used to grow food in today’s large industrial agricultural system end up destroying the very biological organisms we rely on to sustain our environment.

It is hard not to bring the debate back to glyphosate. It is everywhere and in everything e.g. in non-organic food, wine, beer, in tap water, in urine and it has even been recorded in breastmilk. So much of the stuff is used and with such frequency that it is compromising our health and the health of our food chain and ultimately our planet. Glyphosate is toxic not only to the plants it kills, and the humans which consume the plants but also to earthworms. At least 6 studies have shown that glyphosate is damaging to earthworms, reducing their reproductive rates and reducing the rate at which they turn soil over. Earthworms have chemoreceptors and sensory turbercles on their skin giving them a high degree of sensitivity to chemicals and they avoid soil contaminated with glyphosate.

We can learn a lot from these little creatures. They quietly go about their work, improving our soil, helping us grow food and they know instinctively that glyphosate is something to be avoided. Maybe society should take a leaf out the earthworm’s book and avoid glyphosate too. The good news though is that organic farming does not use glyphosate (or any chemicals) so by buying our produce, you are not only helping the environment, but your own health too! 

Kenneth

PS Thank you for your continued support, we really appreciate it! All our boxes are organic and plastic free and we also have a great range of organic groceries that you can add to your fruit and vegetable order here.