The 2015 Oak Tree Farm Wild Food Walk!

Please note that this event is only open (free of charge) to members of our farm Community Supported Agriculture Scheme.

One of the key weapons in our arsenal against the hungry gap is our annual members’ wild food walk. This year, I am delighted to report that you will have two guides to your foraging and cooking! The wild food walk and lunch will take place on Saturday 2nd May 2015 – meet at the farm at 11am. Here is the article in the Guardian about last year’s wild food walk.

My friend Tasha Tucker, farmer from Somerset who was the creative force behind the Abundance Feast, and who also runs a runs a stall at the Glastonbury Festival “The Peasants Lunchbox” will be visiting the farm that weekend, and she has kindly agreed to share her foraging and cooking expertise with you.

Also guiding your foraging and cooking will be our very own seasonal grower Gemma Sayers who is something of a pro when it comes to making the most of the wild harvest.

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And they call this the “Hungry Gap”?

Another veg box to be proud of in the depths of the “Hungry Gap”. Still, the advice on how to survive and thrive in these months still holds!

[picture to follow]

  • 250g Sprouting broccoli
  • 250g Swiss chard
  • bunch of 18 radishes
  • 175g salad leaves
  • 2 lettuces (either one large and one small, or two medium)
  • 100g borecole flower sprouts
  • 2 Spring cabbage OR 1 cauliflower

 

 

 

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The 2015 Oak Tree chicks are at the farm!

chicks

Here at The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm we breed our own chicks laid by our own ladies and fathered by our magnificent cockerels! We do this because we are improving our “dual purpose” chickens, that is chickens that are suitable for both meat and egg production.

Most chickens farmed today are either fast growing meat birds, or “specialist” egg laying birds. The boy chicks of the egg laying birds (including those of free range, high welfare, birds) are routinely killed as soon as they hatch for “efficiency”.

croppedchicken

We prefer to give our boys a few months in the spring sunshine before they become one of the the most delicious roast dinners you can imagine (closely rivaled by our Oak Tree Pork!) A few of the larger boys go on to become our breeding cockerels.

Dual purpose birds have been bred for looks rather than meat or egg production in recent decades, so we are selectively breeding birds that are good meat and egg birds.

This is our third year of breeding chickens, and we have already noticed a significant improvement in both carcass weight and egg laying! In future, when they have improved some more, we plan to sell the fertile eggs to others to incubate so they too can enjoy the benefits of improved dual purpose birds!

They are a real mix of colours now as we have introduced numerous breeds to our flock (Golden Lace Orpington, Light Sussex, Buff Sussex, Plymouth Barred Rock, Ixworths…) and we leave them to find the partner of their choice :)

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The Oak Tree Hungry Gap: How to survive and thrive!

With apologies to the lovely author of Surviving and Thriving on the Land, Rebecca Laugton for pinching the phrase from her book’s title, here is The Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm Members’ guide to surviving and thriving through the hungry gap of (roughly) April/May.

1) Make the most of your veg box.

end Mar 2015

We do everything we can to keep your veg box as plentiful as possible, but inevitably most of the contents of your box will be leafy. Keep referring to the farm recipe page for ideas on new things to do with them, and share your ideas on what to do with the veg (please see members’ email for how to do this)!

2) Make the most of the wild food harvest!

A bowl full of exquisite nettle tips for the soup

A bowl full of exquisite nettle tips for the soup

Join the Wild Food Walk for farm members. We’ll make delicious salads and soups from the plentiful (perennial) wild foods that (fortuitously) fill the hedgerow at this time of year! Please see useful dates for CSA members for more details. In years to come we will introduce cultivated perennial salad leaves from our forest garden in the veg box shares, but they aren’t ready yet.

3) Get involved with The Oak Tree Preserving Group this Autumn!

Preserving queen Christine!

Preserving queen Christine!

The Oak Tree is all about working together for everyone’s benefit, and all CSA members receiving a veg share box this hungry gap will benefit from the hard work of the preserving group last autumn as we add in chutneys and pickles made from last year’s gluts to the hungry gap vegetable boxes.

And before you know it we’ll be into the feast of July (weather and hard work permitting!)

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Planting potatoes

Ever wondered how those beautiful ridges that we plant our potatoes into are made?

Here is John in action with our Goldoni Jolly two-wheeled tractor!

tractoring too tractoring one

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First veg box of “The Hungry Gap”

end Mar 2015

As we enter into April, we also begin the official Hungry Gap of April/May – the dates vary a little each year, but this year we are coming to the very end of the carrots and leeks, and increasingly depending on newly sprouted leaves. Fortunately we have our annual wild food walk for farm members coming up soon!

And we aren’t doing too badly at all this week, especially since given we never buy in any vegetables at all to add to our boxes, all the vegetables in our veg share boxes are grown on The Oak Tree Farm!

  • 1 leek (they are finishing now)
  • 350g carrots or Swiss chard
  • 350g parsnips
  • 6 radishes or a small lettuce
  • 200g salad leaves (that’s a lot, it is our hungry gap speciality!)
  • 100g sprouting brocllli
  • 1 spring cabbage

 

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Carrot Salad, recommended by Tom

Carrot Salads in bowl

Carrot Salad

“Looking for a new way to use knobbly carrots?! Make this delicious quick and easy carrot salad“, Tom.

Ingredients:

  • Carrots, peeled
  • Orange Juice (fresh is better but carton stuff is fine)
  • Optional extras: Raisins, Olive oil, Toasted seeds e.g. pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.

Method:

  1. Grate the carrots into a large bowl
  2. Add a generous slosh of orange juice to taste
  3. Add optional extras to taste.

That’s it! Even without the optional extras it’s tasty and healthy and keeps well for a day or so in the fridge.

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Nearly the hungry gap?

vegbox 17 Mar 2015

We are approaching the traditional hungry gap, but our hard work to keep the veg supply going strong is paying off! And we are looking forward to some more hungry gap crops in the weeks to come including lettuces, radishes and Swiss chard… remember we only put vegetables from our own farm into our veg boxes, and we keep going all year round, which is very unusual here in the UK.

In the veg boxes this week:

- 2 good sized leeks

- 350g carrots

- 350g parsnips

- 100g sprouting broccoli or a cauliflower

- 110g salad leaves

- a Spring cabbage

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A busy time of year!

March is always a busy time of year on the farm, and our lovely members have risen to the challenge this month!

Here are some photos of a recent working party, including a visit from the Ipswich Green Party Parliamentary candidate Barry Broom!

Please note: we’re not promoting a particular political party, we invited all the candidates (except UKIP as Joanne couldn’t face it) to explain the challenges to the farm caused by the current policy framework and regulations. To date Barry has been the only one to accept our invitation. The invitation is still open to other the others who have been invited.

 

Ipswich Green Party Parliamentary Candidate Barry Broom gets stuck into some work!

Ipswich Green Party Parliamentary Candidate Barry Broom gets stuck into some work!

A busy tea time!

Enjoying the sunshine!

A busy tea time!

A busy tea time!

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This week’s veg box

1st Box Mar 2015

In the veg boxes this week:

- 60g salad leaves

- 350g carrots

-350g parsnips

- two leeks

- 150g Spring greens or 100g Swiss chard (or possibly sprouts later in the week)

- 100g sprouting broccoli (may be replaced by a jar from the Preserving Group in some boxes – members with boxes that day will get broccoli another week and vice versa!)

 

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