Sunset on the farm

Jonathan’s look back at 2020, and forward to 2021!

Well 2020 didn’t exactly turn out as planned. Now that our second full year on the farm is coming to an end it’s time to reflect on what we have achieved and figure out where we’re going next.

It has been a year of firsts for us. Our first crop of spring onions, tomatillos, celery, chicory, yellow crystal cucumbers, sprouts, kale, cabbage and our amazing rainbow carrots. We also grew new varieties of tomatoes and peppers, some we will grow again, some we will give a miss and some I know we shouldn’t grow again but we will because I love them, Brad’s Atomic Grape tomato for example.

There have been lessons learnt and some things we are still trying to get right. Our brassicas have done really well, the cavolo nero have given us a huge crop, next year we will plant even more. Timing for beetroot sowing didn’t go as well, 15,000 seeds sowed and should have been ready for winter but it looks like it will be a spring crop.

It has been a strange year for all of us and we had to adapt quickly, not always a bad thing. When we entered the first lockdown we had the fun experience of having the bar staff helping on the farm for a few weeks, perfect timing because we still had our orchard to be planted. 180 fruit trees, planted in concentric rings around a BBQ area, each ring a different fruit tree or variety, apples, pears, plums, cherries, Mirabelle De Nancy and figs. None of the standard varieties found in a supermarket, we have gone for flavour over uniformity.

We have welcomed new colleagues, Petra and Charlie, and also received a massive amount of help from our regular volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without you.

And not forgetting the best news of the year, Betty, our new Massey Ferguson tractor, it maybe older than me but it will transform our farm. It will help us make the most of the land and allow us to create our own compost for the no-dig beds, reducing the need to plough and to add fertility to the soil for even better cropping.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to rethink our food system to make it more resilient. The shortage of eggs this year had nothing to do with making too many cakes during lockdown, it was simply down to a shortage of egg boxes, all of which come from abroad. Thanks to Matt at New Macdonalds Farm and our customers for the egg box donations, it meant we had a constant supply of the best quality eggs any of us could buy. Keep an eye out for open days at New Macdonalds, there are not many egg producers who will show you around their farm, visit them and you will see why we stock their eggs!  

2021, its going to be great year for all of us. We have a new look and bigger farm shop, we have our beloved new tractor, new fruit and veg varieties to grow as well as new plants and herbs. We will also have open days so you can see where your veg comes from and will be offering bee keeping lessons, so do keep an eye out for announcements on that. 

Finally, thanks to everyone involved in our journey this year, whichever way that was. Thanks to Ross at Farrington’s for your root veg (and loads of advice), thanks to Matt and family at New Macdonalds Farm for your eggs, thanks to Charlie, Petra and Harry who have put up with me on a daily basis, thanks to all our volunteers and a huge thanks to all our customers who are making this possible.