Wednesday 16 July 2014

The veg is really starting to flow, at last!

We are starting to get discernible quantities of summer veg at last.  The first few weeks there is this trickle, so a few of you have been lucky enough to get a little preview but there is not been enough for all the boxes.  Now it is starting to come, still not necessarily enough for all, but whole rounds are now getting courgettes or cucumbers, the tomatoes are coming in, fennel last week, this week a choice from the following - calabrese, pointed cabbage, beetroot, round beans, flat beans and mange tout peas.  This doesn't make writing the blog very easy or helpful to those of you wanting to know what is in the box but it does make for very delicious, if not predictable, contents of the boxes.

There will also be new potatoes, new carrots and onions and lettuce.

Thursday 3 July 2014


It's starting to feel like summer - lots of holiday cancellations just when the lovely summer veg starts to come in!

As well as new potatoes, carrots and onions, this week we have broad-beans (big pods) which you shell and either flat beans or round beans, both 'mange tout' varieties. Most of our beans and peas are the latter but broad-beans are one of the few that you do need to pod (take out the beans and discard the pod).  For those of you familiar with broad beans this might seem obvious but ever since I had a complaint about those 'tough' beans, I don't take anything for granted!

We also have garlic, lettuce, and courgettes or cucumbers.

Thursday 19 June 2014

This week's box

Along with the usual basics you will have tomatoes, cucumber, courgette, beans and lettuce.

Apologies if you had some duff potatoes last week. Do let us know so we can give you extra to make up. Our own are nearly there. This part of the country is one of the latest for new spuds due to its distance from the warming effect of the sea on the land.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Beautiful carrots

Every now and again, I get involved in looking at the bigger picture of what we do here at North Aston.  In pursuit of that, yesterday I went to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology in the Houses of Parliament to hear some eminent people discussing why our economic system makes it more profitable to produce food in ways that damage the environment and our health, instead of rewarding methods of production that deliver benefits.  The original question, unsurprisingly, answered by one and all, was that the economic system was driven by very limited criteria that didn't take into account the true costs of current practices.

The discussion then was that in order to truly reflect the real costs one must quantify (make visible and accountable) all the externalities (the consequences) good and bad of different food production methods so that decision making on support and funding can be well-grounded.  One then must find a way of putting a value on health, well-being, environment, etc. no idea how one does that but there are clever people out there already on the case and 'modelling' seems to be an exciting and happening kind of research tool which can handle these complex issues.  (In my day I think they called it 'statistics' but this is much cleverer!)

That's good then, all sorted!  For sure now everyone will see that the future depends on nurturing our resources not exploiting them.  Yeah right!  Now all we have to do is overcome the well-financed vested interests who have at their disposal resources which will at every turn counteract any move that threatens the status quo.  Sometimes it does feel incredibly pointless trying to change things but then doing nothing is not an option!!

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but I defy anyone to dispute the beauty and fine taste of this week's carrots.  A comment from Val (who is celebrating her birthday today) was that "they were a joy to harvest, hardly any imperfections or little ones to discard".  Hope you enjoy them.

In the box this week we have (drum roll)  NEW potatoes!  We also have those delicious new carrots pulled by Val, onions, pointed green cabbage, calabrese, tomatoes, mushrooms and lettuce.  In the fruit bag as well as apples, oranges and bananas we have clementines and kiwis.

Thursday 5 June 2014

I don't think we have quite got into the rhythm of this blog

Apologies, yet again, for last week's missing blog.  Sorry, we (I) am not too good at this.

One of the things (one of the many things) that I was doing last week, (instead of writing the blog), was preparing some leaflets for Bicester's Big Lunch which I had been invited to attend in order to promote our box scheme.

I was reluctant to give up a lovely sunny Sunday in the garden especially when it meant spending the day in the middle of a town.  I still mourn the loss of the afternoon but my time was not wasted and I met some very friendly people.  I was cynical about the value of a community lunch in the centre of a town but was pleasantly surprised at how just putting lots of chairs and tables along the pedestrianised areas attracted people to stop a while.  It made me realise that there are very few places where one can inexpensively socialise in bigger groups.  By simply making this space the Big Lunch had encourage people to come out with their neighbours and friends into a space which could accommodate larger groups and they came out in large numbers and it was a huge success.  Well done the organisers and all the helpers!

In the box this week the potatoes are Lady Balfour - a good all-purpose potato.  As well as carrots and onions, this week's box contains butternut squash, celery, wet/fresh garlic, tomatoes, and frilly lettuce or salad.  The fruit bag has apricots and lemons in addition to the usual apples, oranges and bananas.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Apologies for last week's absence

 I had a day out in London at the Transylvanian Festival last Wednesday and someone, I'm not naming names, forgot to do the blog!

The Festival was a fundraiser for supporting sustainable rural life out there; to help the villages continue in the way they have for centuries and stop them having to go down the route to ever-more carbon dependency.

Those Transylvanian fields, full of diversity and plants which have practically disappeared elsewhere in Europe, are so precious.  For me it just emphasised what has been lost here in Britain through the industrialisation of agriculture. It is all very well to try to conserve what has yet to be lost but surely we too must employ less injurious methods of farming so as not to lose any more and to hopefully restore where we can.

In the box this week there will be different potato varieties for different collection points but they will all be good for all purposes.  As well as onions and carrots we have courgettes or cucumbers, calabrese, tomatoes, spinach and lettuce   In the fruit bag the extra fruit will be nectarines and pears.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Hopefully better late than never!

Losing a day to the Bank Holiday meant everything was running late.  The Blog is always the last job on a Wednesday and sorry, I just ran out of time.

This is excellent growing weather, good for the seedlings, good for planting out and good for plants already established.  The downside of having terrific growing conditions is that the healthy soil that we cherish is just as hospitable to the weeds as to our plants so, after the winter break, weeding is well and truly back on the list of priorities.

This week's potato is Lady Balfour - a good all purpose potato, named after one of the pioneers of the UK organic movement.  As well as onions and carrots, the box will also contain parsnips, butternut squash, calabrese (broccoli), flat beans and lettuce.