We’re back! We had to cancel three courses because of coronavirus, but we made it through lockdown at the farm with the help of our Australian friend, Grant. There are worse places to be confined!
Our first post-lockdown course, which was lots of fun, was in mid-June and we have one more – this weekend – before we break for the summer. The dates of our autumn courses are now on our website.
We’ve joined WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and been inundated with requests by potential WWOOFers. Alice, Anja and Anastasia (above) were our first hardworking and delightful WWOOFers. We now have just one WWOOFerless week before the end of September!
We also have four students from the local forestry college doing internships with us. They’ve already mapped out three more ponds and catalogued all 23 types of tree in Steve’s Wood. Now they’re doing a biodiversity inventory and designing their own forest garden.
We’ve basically had no rain since the beginning of March. We’ve been here for three years and every year we’ve had months and months without any significant rain.
As well as drought we’ve had to cope with biblical quantities of slugs (favourite foods: salad & beans) and blackfly (favourite foods: cabbage & beans).
But there’s been plenty of good news too!
The raspberries started giving on 17 May and now we’re swimming in red fruit! Or rather, we’re swimming in the pond and gorging ourselves on red fruits. Alexis makes a very fine gin and raspberry cocktail if you happen to be passing on a Friday evening!
After two years of trying to grow wild garlic from seed without success, it’s finally taken hold in Steve’s Wood.
We also have enough cultivated garlic (and potatoes and onions) to last us through the next societal collapse!
Having Grant at the farm for two months during lockdown meant we made great progress in the forest garden and the veg plot. In fact, he worked so hard that we’ve renamed part of the forest garden Grant’s Garden!
He was allowed a few tea breaks!!!
This year we’re growing the ultimate association of plants, The Three Sisters (sweetcorn/sunflowers, climbing beans and squash/pumpkins. The beans grow up the corn or sunflowers and fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn and squash/pumpkins. The squash/pumpkins cover the soil and help to prevent it drying out.
Some friends came over to help us scythe our field just after lockdown ended. Five scythes, ten friends, fifteen acres – “finger in ze nose” as the French say and the English don’t. However, it was also Alexis’s birthday so they had a few drinks. In fact, it probably fair to say that they were better at making merry than they were at scything!!!
Our neighbour, Cedric, made us a splendid new gate for the veg plot out of old bits of wood and the metal from the old gate. And he built a new door for the Swallow Room so that Thelma can’t get in and bother the nesting swallows. Don’t worry – the swallows can still get in through the window!
Blanche added a significant innovation to our magic bean teepees: helicopter blades so the beans can go somewhere when they reach the top.
And finally, we filled up a whole page in our local newspaper without the journalist ever visiting the farm (because of lockdown). She’s coming back to do a course in October so she can write an “I‑survived-a-permaculture-and-vegan-cooking-weekend-with-a-couple-of-eco-nutters” article!