Soup with Fennel leaves (stalks and fronds)

Soup with Fennel leaves

“I was wondering what to do with the fennel leaves as I did not want them to end in our compost! I have come across this simple recipe. Very nice soup indeed and I made load to freeze in small batches! I have used all the stalks and fronds”, Nadia


  • Fennel leaves (Stalk and fronds), washed and roughly cut
  • One large carrot, washed and roughly chopped
  • One large potato, washed and roughly chopped
  • One lignin, roughly chopped
  • Two garlic cloves, chopped
  • Oil, salt, pepper


  1. Put the following vegetables in a pan: fennel leaves, carrot, potato. Cover with water, add salt and pepper to taste. Start cooking.
  2. Sautee the onions and garlic in oil until soft.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the rest of vegetables and boil for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Blend it all

The soup is ready, you may enjoy it as is or with a splash of cream.

Bon appétit!

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Fennel and Goat’s Cheese Lasagne‏, by Tom

Fennel and Goat Cheese Lasagne



  • Several bulbs of Florence fennel (the more the better!)
  • 3oz flour, 3oz butter, 1/2 to 1 pint milk for bechamel
  • 1-2 courgettes (thinly sliced) or a small squash
  • 200g goat’s cheese, thinly sliced.
  • 8-10 sheet’s lasagne (number of sheets depends on size and shape of your dish)
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg


  1. Make the bechamel sauce. Roux: 3oz flour fried in 3oz butter, then stir in milk bit by bit to creamy sauce consistency, add salt pepper and nutmeg.
  2. Sweat fennel in a bit of oil and add a small slosh of water or two if it starts to brown.
  3. If using squash instead of the courgettes, then steam or sweat a similar quantity of squash
  4. Simply layer into flat bottomed oven proofed dish. We did the following order (fennel, courgette, lasagne, bechamel, goat’s cheese, repeat till you run out) but as long as you finish at a bechamel-goat’s cheese layer to brown on top it doesn’t really matter. Season as you go to taste.
  5. Oven (180C) for about half an hour.

Enjoy with a little salad on the side!

Bon appétit!

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September Veg Share Box

Following all the drama of the “Save the Oak Tree” Crowdfunding Campaign, I finally have time to post what is in this week’s veg share box!

Sept Week3 2015

- 1kg potatoes

- 1 cucumber

- 550g tomatoes

- A bunch of 3 Florence Fennel

- 2 medium sized or 3 small courgettes

- 550g runner beans or 375g French beans

- 3 ultra fresh sweetcorn

Optional Flower Share



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Harvest Party – Celebrations!

Pictures from our farm harvest party – celebrating both the bounty of the autumn and the success of the Save the Oak Tree Crowdfunding Campaign!P9122381_lzn



Farm friends and members :)







And late into the night…


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Stuffed tomatoes – Smoked bacon and cheese


Stuffed tomtatoes – Bacon and cheese Picture before cooking

“I used this recipe to make stuffed tomatoes for the last farm party and it went down very well! Last time I have done this recipe, I tried also stuffing courgettes and it was yummy”, Nadia


  • One goat cheese (roughly 125g). Note: I have added some feta cheese too.
  • 250g smoked bacon/pancetta, in small pieces.
  • 60g button mushrooms, cut in small pieces.
  • Herbs de Provence.
  • Salt & Pepper.


  1. Cook the bacon with mushrooms in a pan.
  2. Prepare the tomatoes: cut the top and empty the tomatoes. Put some salt and pepper inside and put them inside down for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut the cheese in small pieces and mix with the cooked mushrooms and bacon.
  4. Fill the tomatoes with the above mixture. Add the herbs on top, then put the top of the tomatoes.
  5. Cook in oven (210C) for approximately 35 minutes.

Bon appétit!

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The highs, and lows, of Saving the Oak Tree

Running the Crowdfunding Campaign to Save The Oak Tree Farm is an extraordinary experience, with real highs and some pretty deep lows. I’ll explain a bit of the background to how I came to create The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm and I think you’ll understand why.

This is what The Oak Tree Looked like when I bought the land seven years ago. Having always grown organically, I was shocked. A 12 acre field with soil that was utterly dead, with only 2% organic matter and no earthworms. A small piece of land that had been utterly decimated by Industrial Agriculture.

Let’s go back a step. What on earth was I doing buying 12 acres of land in the first place!? I had a pretty good job as an engineer, why give it up?
I was genuinely and seriously worried. In my free time, in the evenings following my full time job, I had been studying environmental issues, first an A Level, then a Masters.

Climate Change worried me such a lot that I just I had to do something about it. I moved from working in IT, to developing wind farms in France (a long story which passed via language college near Paris, and University in Corsica). Renewable energy is important, but, frankly, it wasn’t going fast enough for my liking. What else could be done?

I also grew much of my own food and lived frugally, which is how I save up the money to buy The Oak Tree. Through growing my own food, first on allotments, then on a 2.5 smallholding in France, I realised how intimately food production is linked to environmental issues. Take a look at this article in Nature “One-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture”

So I asked the question, “Is it possible to produce good food while really caring for the environment?” And after a good deal of thinking, saving and soulsearching (“do I really  want to do this?!”) The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm was born. It poses that very question, and seven years on I believe we have an answer: Yes, and no.

“Yes” because we are doing so at The Oak Tree. We providing vegetables for over sixty household, along with meat, eggs and cut flowers, while having, we believe, a net positive effect on greenhouse gas emissions. Our initial calculations, admittedly from insufficient soil tests (they are expensive, and we are short of time) suggest we are storing more carbon into our soil as organic matter than we are emitting though our farming activities!

But “no” because government policy is so set against what we are trying to do that we are threatened with closure due to lack of funds. I have tried to raise these issues via my local MP, and through campaigning with the Landworkers’ Alliance, but it is having no effect here in England (Scotland is doing better).

I personally am living on self employed wages of £600 a month while working pretty much 7 days a week. My fellow growers Eric and John are also working on reduced wages to keep the farm going in the hope of reaching our crowdfunding target. I am still paying a loan back on part of the value of the farm from these reduced wages. The land is worth £120,000 and I ask for a nominal rent of £125 a month from the farm not for profit social enterprise community interest company. I have given everything I have, I can’t give any more, which is why I am  appealing for your help.

The Save the Oak Tree Crowdfunding Campaign is our only chance of saving the dream of producing good food at The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm while showing that it is possible to do so while caring for the enviroment. If we don’t achieve our “Survive” target, we will have to close down and I will have to sell the land.

It would be a personal tragedy for me, and I know that our many members and wider friends would be devastated. But I think the picture is even wider than that.

Amazingly, here are The Oak Tree, we not only are we caring for the global environment through sequestering carbon, we are also caring for people, animals, local wildlife. What is there not to like about what we are doing? Why is so little being said in the media about all this? Please help us to survive so we can continue to demonstrate that there really is another way to farm!

If you can pledge money then fantastic, thank you. But just as important is spreading the word. Please do email your friends & family about the campaign, tell colleagues and contacts who might be interested. And also please share posts from our Facebook Page, and retweet our Tweets on Twitter!

Thank you so much from a lady farmer who is both fearful, and hopeful, all at the same time.

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Stuffed courgette flowers by Lucy B

courgette flowers

Important note to farm members! You are welcome to help yourself to courgette flower if, and only if, they are attached to a courgette that has already started to form (ie has been pollinated). Please do NOT take flowers that are attached to a really tiny courgette, or a stalk – we need them to pollinate our courgette crop!!!

For the Filling:

  • 100g ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • Handful of fresh herbs (I used basil and thyme)For the batter:
  • 100g plain flour
  • 40g corn flour
  • Half teaspoon baking powder
  • Half teaspoon sea salt
  • 200-225 ml ice cold sparkling waterOr get a tempura batter mix and make up with sparkling water.To make the batter sift and mix the dry ingredients. Whisk in the water a bit at a time until the batter is the consistency of single cream. Don’t over mix. It doesn’t matter if there are a few lumps.

    For the filling beat the ricotta until smooth then stir in the parmesan and chopped herbs. Season. Scoop a couple of teaspoons into each flower and twist the petals to enclose.

    Dip the flowers into the batter and deep fry in hot oil for 2 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown.  Yum!


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It’s not the economy stupid! Guest post from farm member Dave Watson

We’re delighted to publish this thoughtful, and very interesting, guest blog post from farm member Dave Watston. Not only is Dave a trained professional chef, he is also an academic with a particular specialist subject which is very relevant to the “Save the Oak Tree” Campaign.

Dave Watson baking pizzas in The Oak Tree wood fired oven

Dave Watson baking pizzas in The Oak Tree wood fired oven

‘It’s the economy stupid’ is a well worn political catchphrase conjured up by Bill Clinton’s 1992 election campaign team to underline the importance of gaining voter’s confidence in managing the economy. Fast forward 23 years and the Tories have just won the 2015 election because of their economic credibility (or so they would have us believe). So clearly it’s important, right? But why, we all know that money doesn’t buy you happiness or does it? Presumably money’s value so to speak is that it enables us to have things that make us comfortable and or happy like a nice house or an ice cream. In which case it’s not about the economy but actually our happiness or well-being, money simply being a tool that enables us to get there, but does it allow us to get everything that makes us happy. What about meaningful relationships or a fulfilling job and what has all this got to do with the Oak Tree Farm anyway?

Well for the last 3 years I’ve been studying for a PhD exploring the links between wellbeing and participation in community food projects, one of which is the The Oak Tree Farm. Now anyone who is involved with the farm and possibly many people who aren’t might think it’s blindingly obvious that these kind of enterprises are good for us, so why bother spending years studying this. Whilst there’s been a lot of interest and growth in the local and alternative food sector, there’s been very little done to turn this common sense assumption into an articulate argument that describes the benefits of places like The Oak Tree. There’s also quite a lot more work to be done to persuade the policy makers that it’s not the economy stupid, despite the Cameron government launching their ‘happiness index’ when was the last time you heard how well the nation’s well-being was doing as opposed to the economy? When I started writing this blog post I tried to distil the research I’ve been doing but I simply can’t condense all the research I’ve done over the last few years into this blog post.  I can tell you how great it is from my own perspective as a member but perhaps the best way to give a sense of just how much the Oak Tree means to those involved with it is to let them say it in their own words.

“…You go through the gate and there’s a big space and a big sky and having cycled up or driven up going through the town and Rushmere and suddenly you feel a sense of arrival somewhere different, you’ve sort of stepped into your countryside”


Early morning sunrise at The Oak Tree, and cabbages!


“How do we get access to land other than walking through it in a twee way, how do we actually feel it and touch it, you know and that’s what I’m doing in those tasks that I’m doing and um therefore you know you either get yourself an allotment, which can be a bit of a headache potentially or you could try this, I’d say try this”

 “it’s an idea, an example of how you can make use of land and get people involved in food production and it’s not just saying we should do this it’s doing it and that’s quite nice, cos that’s essentially what needs to happen, instead of people just talking about having solutions to food problems is people actually doing it”.  


A winter veg share box


“I feel like I could be anywhere, I could be you know unemployed or poor and I would still manage my [weekly payment] for that veg so it feels quite um the self reliant, that feeling of self reliance, that’s the satisfaction I think, cos you feel no matter what you’re not reliant on a supermarket system or a food system that might not sustain itself, I could do it.”

“I think perhaps also the fact that we feel we couldn’t go back from having local veg really that we’ve also had a part in producing as part of our regular diet, we’ve never had that before the farm, so that is a huge change to our lives and maybe we could go back to not having that but I think I would be a lot unhappier”


The annual Oak Tree Members’ Wild Food Walk Spring 2015


“I have used this really trite phrase that Joanne, doesn’t just grow vegetables but she’s growing a community which I think is absolutely true, you know I’ve got to know people you know some brilliant people some really great people you know I never would have met otherwise and I do look forward now to going up there and to seeing them”

Tom and Kirsty, with unusual methods of carrying a spade on a bike

Tom and Kirsty, with an unusual method of carrying a spade on a bike

“You’ve kind of got lots of benefits all combined together whereas in other aspects of life you could have some of those benefits in different areas, so you could have your exercise benefit by going cycling, your social benefit by going to the pub whereas at the farm you’ve got your exercise, you’ve got your health and nutrition and your social aspects all combined together which i think is doesn’t always happen… it’s that combination is quite unique and that sharing, sharing of recipes and sharing of a bit of support.”

Ironically the farm is currently experiencing what could be described as an economic crisis and a pretty serious one to say the least, but if you look at the wider context, this predicament can be linked to a persistent preoccupation with economic growth at all costs, one which the farm simply doesn’t fit into. This shapes our lives in many different and complex ways, but in my view we need to change this way of thinking and cultivate a society that pursues wellbeing as its central aspiration. For an enterprise that is actively trying to achieve this to fail would be a poor reflection on ‘progress’ and would leave behind a huge deficit in this community’s well-being.

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The Save The Oak Tree Crowdfunding site is now live!

The #SavetheOakTree crowdfunding campaign is now live at the link below! Please help to save our much loved little ecological farm which is ignored by the powers that be, but punches above its 12 acre weight to care for the enviroment and people. Thank you.

Save The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm Crowdfunding Campaign

A beautiful naturally grown sunflower!

Of course we would be very grateful for any money you can pledge, but we also ask you to spread the word, by talking about us to friends and family, to email people you know. Many people will want to ask questions about the farm and what has happened. You can direct them to our Frequently Asked Questions  about the #SavetheOakTree campaign.

And another great way to help is to spread the word on social media:

  • Please on Twitter and remember to use the “hashtag” #SavetheOakTree when you talk about us! Retweet our messages, and make up your own.
  • Visit our Facebook page! and share (don’t just “like”) posts about the campaign!
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A hopeful look into the future: The Sunlit Uplands

The last few weeks, since announcing the Save The Oak Tree Crowdfunding Campaign (to be launched in about a week’s time -we’re now busy preparing the video, the rewards for pledges, the campaign webpage etc, etc…) have felt tough. It is a bit like taking your clothes off in public, saying that something had gone wrong with a beloved project, and that if we don’t raise enough money, it will have to be shut down.

Join me on the sunlit uplands

Join me on the sunlit uplands

But that really isn’t what the #SavetheOakTree campaign is all about. No, the whole project, the whole dream of producing good food, while caring for the environment, and the community of people involved, is above all a message of hope and optimism.

Why on earth would growers Eric, John and myself work very long hours on low wages (even if the crowdfunding is successful we’re only seeking the minimum wage) in extremes of weather and often physical discomfort? Why do our lovely farm members come and join us to help with the endless tasks on the farm, as well as offering encouragement and support in countless other ways? The answer, of course, is because we believe in what we are doing (and hopefully, on balance, we enjoy all it!)

So, in this post, I am going to focus on the positive. The Sunlit Uplands of the Future, where the farm’s future is secure and our harvests more productive, and the farm infrastructure less rudimentary! That is why we are campaigning to #SavetheOakTree because it will see us through this rough patch to …. now these advances won’t happen straight away, but they most definitely form an important part of our plans for the future!

The soil will be far better and more productive.

Forrest and Gump August 2014

Forrest and Gump August 2014

We are trialling the amazing methods of soil life scientist Dr Elaine Ingham to improve our soil, as well as using mob stocking methods on our pasture with our two bullocks. Not only with this improve our yields, it will also sequester very significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere into the soil. These are just two of the array of methods that we are using to restore our soil which had been depleted by decades of Industrial Agriculture.

The Forest Garden will have matured

Martin Crawford's amazing Forest Garden in Devon

Martin Crawford’s amazing Forest Garden in Devon

Our cultivated “edible young woodland”, which has been planted over the first few years of the farm, will be producing plentiful orchard fruit, soft fruit and perennial leaves, all while supporting the environment! A huge percentage of fruit eaten in the UK is imported, but this really is daft (a result of crazy policy incentives).

The farm will have a beautiful community building, complete with area for members to relax, space to welcome courses and visitors, a proper kitchen which will enable us to produce value added products from our harvest, and simple accommodation for farm apprentices, not to mention proper composting toilets! At present we are working on a feasibility study – sadly endless rules, regulations and goodness knows what else make it all terribly complicated, but we are making definite progress/

Our cut flower business will be thriving!


British cut flowers are very popular, and we are currently seeking the best ways to market our expanded cut flower harvest. Once we’ve learned the best way to go about this for us, we’ll have a healthy, and ecological, income stream for the farm. Most cut flowers are imported, heavily doused in chemicals, and some are the result of dubious labour practices. Needless to say, ours are grown without chemicals, and are grown right here in Suffolk!






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