Update on Forrest and Gump, The Oak Tree Calves

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!

P8130263_sm P8130272_sm P8130280_sm


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Portraits of our pigs!

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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Pigs love comfrey!

Comfrey is an amazing plant – its deep roots draw up minerals from the subsoil which can be used to provides nutrients for vegetables – we do it the easy way and just use it as a mulch. It was tradtionally known as “knitbone” thanks to its remarkable healing properties. And it makes a nutritious food for chickens and pigs – after initial doubts our pigs have learnt to love it! Zero food miles for our pigs :)

The Oak Tree pigs ejoying a comfrey breakfast!

The Oak Tree pigs ejoying a comfrey breakfast!


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New Oak Tree Chicks

Pictures of the latest Oak Tree Chicks! A delightful mixed selection of our home bred dual purpose meat and egg chickens (because we don’t want to kill day old boy chicks as usually happens for commercial egg production).

Thank you to CSA members Lara and Derek for raising them! They will be moving to the farm this Saturday :)

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Soil Carbon Sequestration – Savory Conference

Thank you to Eric and CSA members who did the harvest and working party on Friday and Saturday last week so I could attend the Savory Conference in London. This was all about using farming to sequester carbon in the soil though innovative farming techniques (of the sort we are trying at The Oak Tree).

You can watch the entire conference, for free, here:


Here are some of my personal favourite parts of the conference:

Darren Doherty is the man who inspired Eric to return to the farm and say “we need livestock”. Find out why I listened to both of them, Day One, Session 3, from 03:29

For an extraordinary insight into how soil works from a remarkable lady on the cutting edge of science, Elaine Ingham, Day One, Session 5, from the beginning.

Joel Salatin is my hero. If I ever feel discouraged at The Oak Tree, I read or listen to Salatin. Hear him talk Day One, Session 5 from 2:00:00.

I’d never really listened to Hunter Lovins before. Worth doing. Day 2, Session 1, from 1:13:25

Need to see the world from a new perspective, or simply to be entertained? I highly recommend the author of “The Optimist’s Tour of the Future” Mark Stevenson Day 2 Session 5 1:47:00

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The Oak Tree awarded Suffolk Carbon Charter Gold

We’re delighted to say that The Oak Tree Farm has once again been awarded the Suffolk Carbon Charter Gold Standard.

Joanne receiving the award presented by Oli of Groundwork

Joanne receiving the award presented by Matt Hullis

We received the award at a lovely event organised by the Greenest County Team last week here.

Garden Party

Garden Party


Our friend Ned Harrison from the Greenest County Team was on good form.

And there were some very interesting talks on deep green architecture, including from the very knowledgeable architect Ralph Carpenter.






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Comparing the cost of our veg with other outlets

I’m always curious to know how the price of a veg share box from The Oak Tree Compares with other ways of buying veg. Indeed I did a comparison back in the hungry gap  which suggested that we’re doing quite well (much of the explanatory wording in this post is taken from that one…)

CSA Members busy at work on The Oak Tree

CSA Members busy at work on The Oak Tree

I should say straight away that being a member of The Oak Tree Farm is a very different experience to shopping at a large supermarket. To give you an idea:

  • Large supermarket: open 7 days a week/choose what you want/you just need cash/big range of produce all year round.
  • The Oak Tree: veg box harvested once a week/ultra fresh local veg/community of friendly people/commitment and work needed/only seasonal veg/parties and other social events thrown in.
Mid-harvest at The Oak Tree - there is still much more to add to the boxes!

Mid-harvest at The Oak Tree – there is still much more to add to the boxes!

…so it is daft, really, to compare the two. We are now in the feast of July, but curiously the discrepancy in price is similar to that in the hungry gap (link above).

Just so as you know… The Oak Tree is not certified organic, and here is why from our website, “All cultivation at The Oak Tree is done without artificial fertilisers, pesticides or other chemicals, and we use only natural non-chemical pest control and fertilisers. Organic certification costs around £500 per year and imposes considerable paperwork overhead, and would sometimes mean we need to transport things further and thus increase our carbon emissions.” But I dare to say our veg is inevitably fresher (we harvest everything except possibly root crops and squash, which are absolutely fine stored, on the day on which veg boxes are made available to members. So I am going to compare with organic produce from other suppliers.

Let’s go through this week’s veg share box step by step, and compare. I looked prices up online today – starting with Tescos, then scouring Riverford and Abel and Cole’s websites if Tescos didn’t offer a vegetable.

Organic cucumber £1 (Tesco)

Organic Beetroot = 1.75 * 400/450 = £1.55 (Tesco)

Organic French beans 400/225 * 1.60 = £2.84 (Tesco)

Organic courgettes £2 (Abel and Cole)

Organic bunch of carrots (weight not specified, but didn’t look bigger than ours) £2.55

Organic potatoes 50p (Tesco)

Organic tomatoes £3 (Tesco)

Organic Swiss chard £1 (Riverford)

Total equivalent price: £14.44 compared to our weekly price of £8. Not too bad, eh?

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Veg share box week this week

This week’s veg box is very much the feast of July…


1 biggish cucucumber or 2 smaller ones

400g French beans (that’s quite a bit!)

500g potatoes

2 courgettes

300g tomatoes

400g beetroot (with leaves on)

500g carrots

150g Swiss chard

This is what went into the veg boxes on Monday. We may, as always, “wildcard in” other veg in place of any of these later in the week if supplies of one crop dwindle while another rises – that way we don’t waste anything

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Annual CSA Members’ Meeting

Thank you to all our lovely members who either joined the annual CSA Member’s meeting last Thursday evening or who sent in their comments to contribute to the meeting.

Oak Tree CSA Meeting, Thursday 3 July 2014

Oak Tree CSA Meeting, Thursday 3 July 2014

Here are the meeting minutes: The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm CSA Members 2014 Annual Meeting

And Joanne’s presentation shown at the beginning of the meeting: The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm CSA Members 2014 Annual Meeting Pres

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Flower and Veg share box week beginning 7th July 2014

Oak Tree flower share (you only get this is you've signed up for it)

Oak Tree flower share (you only get this is you’ve signed up for it)

Joanne’s on a factfinding mission into soil carbon and deep technical stuff for a couple of days. So I’m filling in and winging this with just a photo. Starting off with one of the flower shares  – you get this if you have signed up for it in advance.

I’ve just taken a photo of the box

Oak Tree Veg Box 7 July

Oak Tree Veg Box 7 July

whereas Wildlife Gadgetman showed how to do it properly with his photo of  last week’s box on Facebook. What can I say – you just can’t get the staff these days, but at least the flowers are nice ;)

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