The Flower Farmer’s Year by Georgie Newbery – Book Review

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Here on The Oak Tree website I only ever bother reviewing books that I find genuinely useful. There are so many gardening and farming books out there that I don’t really see any point in criticising poor ones. I’d prefer to just draw attention to the useful ones! The publishers Green Books often seem to bring out interesting volumes, so if they publish a book on a topic that interests me I’ll always take a look.

FLower farming book

It just so happened that the evening before I heard about the upcoming publication of The Flower Farmer’s Year by Georgie Newbery I had been looking at her website, and dreaming of attending a Flower Farming course with her. She’s a long way from The Oak Tree, and the farm was too busy at the time to seriously plan a trip down to Somerset, so I had reluctantly abandoned the idea. The timing of her book could not have been better!

First flower shares of 2014

First Oak Tree flower shares of 2014

We’ve been growing cut flowers here at The Oak Tree for a couple of years. Flower shares are an ever more popular option in our veg share boxes and I had been planning to branch out into selling flowers beyond the farm community, but had never quite found the time to do so. Also, if I’m honest, I wasn’t really confident about the best way to go about preparing, packaging and marketing them.

Wedding flowers

Wedding flowers

A couple of years ago a lady came onto the farm via the hedgerow to ask if she could buy some of our sunflowers for her daughters’ wedding (we said “yes”!) and we had lots of fun preparing the flowers for Eric and Rose’s wedding this year. The dream of offering local Low Carbon Flowers from The Oak Tree for weddings and other special events has been growing ever since!

Georgie Newbery’s chatty, friendly and approachable book is just what we need to help us make the jump into expanding the cut flower venture here at The Oak Tree. Previous books we’ve looked at are either written for the (rather different) US climate, or are for the amateur gardener seeking to grow cut flowers for the house. The Flower Farmer’s Year gives advice targeted to our mild, dark-in-winter climate, and also gives practical advice on both preparing flowers for sale, and most importantly of all perhaps, how to actually sell them!

We all instinctively know that the story behind cheap supermarket year-round flowers isn’t pretty, but I hadn’t realised just how chemical-infused the “conventional” flower industry actually was until reading Georgie’s book. I feel better prepared to explain the environmental benefits of locally grown flowers produced without chemicals now: a genuine addition to our Low Carbon range of produce.

So look out for news on how to order Low Carbon, Suffolk grown flowers from The Oak Tree for your wedding, or other event, here soon. Thank you Georgie Newbery!

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Chantelle’s cabbage and leek bake

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Recipe-Leek-Fennel-Bake

Leek & fennel bake

Ingredients:

  • 8 to 10 patatoes (with skin on: it’s where all the goodness is and saves time)
  • Grated cheese
  • One leek
  • A quarter of cabbage
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Boil the patatoes
  2. Thinly dice leek and a quarter cabbage and steam in a pan with the lid on with half a cup of water in the bottom until the veg deepens and becomes more vibrant in colour. Season to taste.
  3. Make a mash with the cooked patatoes. Add a couple of handfuls of grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mix the potatoes and veg together transfer to a casserole dish, top with cheese and bake @200 for 20mins or until the top is golden.

Enjoy with baked beans :-)

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The week’s veg share box

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This week's veg share box

This week’s veg share box

In the veg share boxes this week…

- 1 Harlequin squash

- 5 Cobs sweetcorn

- 1 “Morton’s Mix” lettuce

- 1 Courgette

- 300g Baby beetroot

1 Florence fennel

- 350g tomatoes

- 150g green beans (runners or French)

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Annual Farm Tour 2014

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We were delighted to welcome a lovely group of visitors to The Oak Tree last Saturday  who came to find out how we work as a community to produce good food while having a positive effect on the environment.

Admiring The Oak Tree Pigs

Admiring The Oak Tree Pigs

Our visitors were genuinely interested in what we are up to, indeed many of them signed up to become members of our community supported agriculture scheme on the day: welcome to you all! If you missed the visit, and are interested in becoming a member of The Oak Tree Community Supported Agriculture Scheme you can find out more, including full instructions on how to join, here.

Our plans for the Forest Garden!

Our plans for the Forest Garden!

Many thanks to Kirsty, Tom and other CSA members who mucked in to make our visitors welcome with hot drinks and home made cookies straight from our wood fired clay oven!

tour3 tour2

 

 

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Veg share box week beginning 15th September 2014

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vegbox15_9_14

- 4 sweetcorn cobs

- 3 courgettes

- 600g tomatoes

- small cucumber

- 1kg beans (mostly runners, some French, bagged separately)

- 750g potatoes

- 300g beetroot

- 150g Swiss chard

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CSA Network UK AGM at The Welsh CSA Gathering

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We thought you might like to see some photos of the Welsh CSA Gathering where the CSA Network UK AGM took place last weekend. It was a lovely event, very interesting, friendly and productive. Thank you to everyone who put so much time and effort into making it such a success, particularly our hosts at Flintshare CSA!

Wonderful Flintshare veg

Wonderful Flintshare veg

They know their onions at Flintshare!

They know their onions at Flintshare!

Our lovely hostess, Nikki Giles of Flintshare CSA

Our lovely hostess, Nikki Giles of Flintshare CSA

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Serious talk…

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… and serious fun too!

 

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Joanne shares her expertise in context sensitive signage from The Oak Tree with Sandy of Flintshare ;)

 

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Harvest Party at the Oak Tree

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Thank you to everyone who joined The Oak Tree Harvest Party last night and made it such a great event!

Dave with food from the Oak Tree

Dave with food from the Oak Tree

 

Dave's barbecue made from a metal drum

Dave’s & Dave’s barbecue made from a metal drum. A great success!

 

Oak Tree sausages

Oak Tree Sausages

 

it was Kate's birthday

Happy Birthday Kate!

 

gathered around the fire

gathered around the fire

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Eric and Rose: A floral wedding!

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Eric and Rose, two founder members of The Oak Tree Farm Community Supported Agriculture Scheme (indeed Eric is now Joanne’s fellow full time grower and manager at the farm) got married a couple of weeks ago.

The happy couple got to know each other initially in the early days of the CSA planting leeks at the farm, hence our home made wedding card to the happy couple:

The Farm's card for the happy couple.

The Farm’s card to the happy couple.

Here they are, just after the ceremony, with an arrangement of farm flowers along with Rose’s farm posy.

The Happy Couple, complete with farm flowers.

The Happy Couple, complete with farm flowers.

Making it official

Making it official

Joanne, proud winner of the “Flower Arrangement in an Egg Cup” competition at her primary school, and granddaughter of an prizewinning amateur flower arranger (but with absolutely no other qualifications in floristry!) did the flower arrangements for the day, with much thanks and credit to the lovely CSA members who stepped in to help picking the flowers on the day when everything got a bit rushed!

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Update on Forrest and Gump, The Oak Tree Calves

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We thought you might like to see how our lovely calves are getting on.

Here they were mid August – they have grown even more since then!

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Portraits of our pigs!

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CSA member Filipa Fisher is a talented illustrator who has been spending some time painting farm animals recently. She has kindly allowed me to share these lovely pictures of our Gloucester Old Spot pigs – aren’t they beautiful!?

second little piggy autocorrect crop one little piggy autocorrect crop

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