It looks like the early spring is set to continue: we have leaves emerging on the hawthorn hegdes; green kale flowering, and meadow pipits singing above us.
Spring means the start of the new growing season for us. The ploughing is already done. The muck pile has been turned over. Let the seeding begin!
In order to offer a wide variety of veg, and to make sure we have healthy transplants to go out into the field, we grow all our own veg from seed. We grow over 90 different varieties of veg each year. Some crops like potatoes, carrots and baby leaf salad are sown straight into the ground, once it is warm enough. But the vast majority of what appears in your veg box we grow as transplants.
We sow the seedlings - by hand - into trays of separate small modules; filled with a very fine growing media (made from peat recycled from the bottom of a reservoir and certified by Soil Associaiton). The modlue trays then go into one of our two heated propagation benches, where the temperature and mositure can be controlled, to trigger germination. Once they are about 5cm tall., the baby plants are moved onto growing benches in the polytunnel, where we can again control the mositure and protect them from late frosts. About 6 weeks later, they are ready to be hardened off in the cold frames for a week. And then planted out into the field: all by hand.
Its a lot of delicate work to get the plants going, but pays dividends later on with healthier and hardier crops. It also means we avoid buying in any plants, which greatly reduces the risk of bringing in pests and diseases.
So far we have seeded just over 4,000 modules. So that's only another 51,000 to go!
The veg boxes will continue for just one more delivery after this, with the last delviery of this season on 18 and 19 April, just in time for the Easter weekend break. We then take a two month break, whilst we get the crops planted. Deliveries start again in the first week of July, when we will hopefully have salad, cucumber, new potatoes and strawberries to share!
Well it actually feels like spring out there. For the first time this year there are bees swarming around the entrance to thier hive, this morning. And I sat on the bench outside my front door too - to have my mid morning cuppa, in the sun.
The new litter of piglets poked their heads out of the sty for the first time - and ran around excitedly - but never more than a few yards from Mum, Felicity! Also, have a look on our facebook page for a video Lorna snapped of a group of 4 month old pigs being moved onto the kale patch last week. They ate so much that they fell asleep outside for the whole afternoon!
Last week we spent several days pruning the apple orchard - shaping the trees and cutting back last years growth to stimulate more fruiting spurs. I suspect that after such a wonderful harvest year last year, the trees may recover their strength this year, and put their energy into wood formation, and less energy into fruiting.
The veg boxes for will continue for another 2 deliveries after this, with the last delviery of this season on 18 and 19 April, just in time for the Easter weekend break. We then take a two month break, whilst we get the crops planted. Deliveries start again in the first week of July, when we will hopefully have salad, cucumber, new potatoes and strawberries to share
Is it really mid February? This warmth is confusing me! I can't decide whether to start sowing or not. And the kale looks like it is going to flower.....
The Good Food Nation Bill consultation is open...time to have your say.
You may remember me talking about the Good Food Nation Bill: the much awaited legislation in the Scottish Parliament, to shape a better food culture in Scotland. Well, the public consultation is now open and I would encourage you to let Scottish Government know what sort of food nation you think Scotland should be, and how the government can make it happen.
I have been involved in the campaign leading up to the Bill, through the food justice organisation Nourish Scotland, of which I was vice chair until recently. In September 2017, I attended the 'Food Summit' in Stirling, at which 80 organisations agreed 5 steps needing legislation to shape our food future. They are.....
1. Incorporate the Right to Food into Scots LawThe right to food is a right for everyone to be able to eat well, and to a food system that treats people and planet fairly. Having a right to food in Scottish law would mean the Scottish Government would have to ensure its policies are not negatively impacting people’s right to food.
2. An Independent Food CommissionWe want the Scottish Parliament to establish an independent commission which will have the authority to oversee the implementation of the Good Food Nation Bill. This commission would facilitate public participation in food policy and be charged with ensuring all policies respect the right to food.
3. Cross-cutting National Food PlansWe want a requirement that every five years the Scottish Ministers develop a joined-up plan for food, that will cover all policy areas that touch on food, from farming to procurement, health, waste, etc. We want this plan to be developed through an open consultation and scrutinised by Parliament.
4. Duties on Public BodiesWe want the Bill to set duties on local authorities, health boards and other public bodies to contribute to the Good Food Nation ambition. These duties would mean they have to respect the right to food and support the deliver of the National Food Plan.
5. Sectoral measures and targetsThe Good Food Nation Bill should include binding targets to stimulate immediate action on some of the challenges of our food system. Targets should aim for reduction in household food insecurity; reduction in adult and childhood obesity; reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the food system; increase in the proportion of food and drink businesses paying the living wage; and other issues – aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Unfortunately, Scottish Government has taken a somewhat minimalist approach in the proposed legislation, and is planning making only one of these actions (number 3) a legal requirement.
I think it is important that all 5 actions (and more) are in the Bill, so that the legislation provides a framework for setting ambitious targets for better food over the next 20 years, and provides a set of measures to achieve them - similar to the Climate Change Bill that has made Scotland a world leader in emission reduction and renewable energy production.
The Good Food Nation consultation is a bit dry, but it is the best way to have your say on Scotland's future food policy. You can read more about the background to the Bill here....
give your consultation response here...
and find some hints on how to fill out the consultation here....
The consultation closes on 29 March 2019. It takes just one lunchtime to make your views known.