If, like us, you gave in to festive gluttony and are feeling a bit guilty, don’t be! In medieval times there really were twelve days of Christmas, punctuated with many feasts. In comparison, our measly two days of celebrations are very sensible. In this darkest of months we feel a legitimate need to cheer ourselves up, to feast and light fires (or maybe just fairy lights on our Christmas trees). There is nothing modern about celebrating at the end of December; it is a time which has been celebrated long before the advent of Christianity, as it is when the winter solstice happens. To you and me this simply means that the shortest day is now behind us and the daylight hours are slowly but surely increasing. The worst is behind us!
Plenty of leafy greens filled the bags in December, such as bouquets of luscious green ‘pentland brig’ kale, frilly ‘scarlet’ kale and dark, earthy ‘cavolo nero’ (also known as dinosaur kale!). There were also clouds of loose-leaf winter salads, including a mix of baby mustards, baby pak choi, rocket and a variety of lettuces. Previously we would weigh and bag loose delicate leaves such as salad, spinach or chard into degradable plastic bags, but we now provide our members with the option to weigh their leaves into their own bag or container, therefore reducing the amount of plastic we use.
It would not be winter without something more solid in the shares. Rooty delights this month were represented by celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot and parsnip. The last one proved to be a true survivor. The tops did not look very promising and we were worried that the roots hadn’t developed well, due to the hot and dry summer. However the harvest was a pleasant surprise with some lovely sized roots hiding in the soil.
In December, thanks to our volunteers, we planted another 100m section of hedgerow, using saplings kindly donated to us by the Woodland Trust. This hedgerow will increase biodiversity at the farm, and provide important habitat and food for wildlife. A group of pupils from Abbey School who volunteer with us every week were part of the team who helped us with this planting. Abbey School specialises in educating children with learning difficulties and additional needs, particularly autism. The end of the year marked the end of this group’s time with us, and after two years we’ll be sad to see them go. The change we’ve seen in all of the pupils over that time has been incredible. Many of them now sprint out of the bus into the field, they’re that keen to start work! It's clear to us, and to their teachers, how much their confidence increased as they became more comfortable and familiar with the farm and with our team. For their last visit we said a fond farewell with hot chocolate and homemade mince pies. This year we'll be welcoming a new group from Abbey School to the farm.
Just before Christmas, on the 23rd December, FCF hosted the charity tea tent at the Farnham Farmer’s Market, selling cakes and other home-made goodies prepared by our lovely volunteers. Thanks to everyone who helped out with the event; we raised over £250 which will go towards the running of the farm.
We're certainly enjoying the prospect of a new year as that means a new growing season, and the chance to 'reset' the field and what we're growing. We're keen to get the farm filled to the brim with crops, so we can provide our members with as much veg grown by us as possible. After a break to recharge our batteries, we are now working on the crop plan for 2019-20, and to help shape our decisions on what vegetables we should grow we asked our members to complete a survey. As a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, and a co-operative, it’s really important to us to hear the thoughts and feedback of our members, and for them to have a say in what happens at the farm. We were really pleased to see from the survey that 94% of respondents said they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with Farnham Community Farm overall.
Thank you to FCF volunteer Joanna McCaffrey for writing our monthly news from the farm.