Hello and welcome to the Burscough Community Farm February Newsletter.
Cook and Eat Session
Over the last couple of months Jane and I have been working on a 'Food Champions' course taught by Kay Johnson, a nutritionist who runs 'The Larder' in Preston. The intention of the training is to enable us to run 'cook and eat' sessions with various groups to get them 'scratch cooking' using wholesome ingredients. We want to run sessions down on the farm inspiring people to create great healthy meals; literally from field to fork.
The course has included basic health and hygiene modules as well as nutrition and cookery demonstrations.
The final part of the training is to run a 'one off' cookery session. We are looking for six 'trainees' to attend our taster session which will be on Wednesday 22nd February from 7-9pm at 'The Grove Youth and Community Centre' in Burscough. It would be really great if you could help us out and you will get to cook and eat some lovely food.
Just drop me an email as soon as possible (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call me on 07803 925446 if you would like to take part, it would be really helpful. .
Big Lunch Extras 'Community Camp'
I have just had the privilege of spending a long weekend at the Eden Project in Cornwall (3rd - 6th February). Organised by the 'Big Lunch Extras', the 'Community Camp' weekend was set up for people who are starting or running community projects linked to people's health and wellbeing.
The Big Lunch Extras programme is run by The Eden Project (hence the location) with funding from The National Lottery. It is very ambitious and its achievements are really impressive.
The agenda was filled with seminars and workshops designed to help and inspire. I have come away with lots of ideas of how to enhance the projects that I am involved with.
A couple of big lessons I have learned are how art and narrative story telling can help the work we do. These things may seem a million miles away from fruit and veg growing, but lets face it, our project is not just about the produce and never has been. I believe we have a wider brief to improve peoples lives whilst farming in a sustainable way for the benefit of the planet. After all, the Permaculture mantra is 'earth care, people care, fair share.'
Nature is amazing in the way that it punishes us yet provides for us. As humans we need to understand it, tell its story and celebrate its gifts. Food simply isn't just about eating and its production isn't all about profits.
I hope that the ideas and tools that this weekend has given me will make sure that we don’t just fill your bellies in the coming growing season.
'People and Gardens' Project in St. Austell, Cornwall
On the last day of the Community Camp we visited a large market garden in St. Austell. This facility grows both plants and fruit and veg which it sells in the form of 'veg bags' (85 per week) and to local pubs restaurants and food businesses (tomatoes for Cornish Ketchup Company).
The Centre provides opportunities for many people with learning difficulties and they are producing some great crops and plants.
Another mission for the nursery is to provide a source of tropical plants for the Eden Centre which it does with large heated and humid glass houses and poly tunnels.
Being a grower, I was especially interested in how they raised their plants and especially their use of large round compost filled pots for growing salad crops. Rather than grow straight in the ground, these pots were utilised to make growing more flexible and user friendly for the students who did the growing. The pots contain compost that is fully changed just once a year. Only the top couple of inches of compost is changed whenever a new salad crop is planted out in them. Some chicken manure based fertiliser is also added at each re-planting to give the new plants a boost.
At the start of February they had Pak Choi, Red Russian Kale, spring onions and other winter salad leaves in abundance. They also had Aubergines, Fennel, Lettuce and beetroot incubating away, some in heated propagators. They told me they were starting their tomatoes next week which they will germinate with bottom heat, but will then raise unheated, using fleece as protection when needed.
Speaking to other growers is always interesting and useful, we have so many different ways of doing things. What one considers 'sacred' another will often brush aside as being too fussy; what works for one doesn't always work for another.
Edge Hill Performing Arts Project
In the last newsletter I told you about the Edge Hill University Arts Project that is being run by Barnaby King down on the farm.
As part of the project, we want members and their families and friends to get involved wherever possible.
On Sunday 19th of March we will be having a 'making day' where we invite you to come along and take part in crafting and making activities. This will involve making props and items such as willow lanterns that will be part of the project.
On Sunday 26th March we will host 'community movement day', similar to the above but you can get involved with more physical creative activities across the field.
Saturday 1st April is the dress rehearsal day for the performance and Sunday 2nd April is the day for the performance itself.
So, I hope you would like to get involved. It is designed for people of all ages and looks to be an amazing and spectacular 'happening.'
On Sunday 12th March we will be holding our Annual General Meeting. It will be taking place down on the field and it will be a great opportunity for you to have your say on how Burscough Community Farm develops in the future.
I am sure there will be cake and it will be an opportunity for any of you out there who haven't yet been along to the field for a while (or ever) to get a guided tour.
We are starting to get the barn and other infrastructure upgraded around the farm. We should soon have a new hard-standing area in front of the barn and it won't be long before you will be able to enjoy the comfort of our new disabled access compost toilet and not have to go traipsing to the far side of the field.
There is plenty of work to be done on the barn so please feel free to come along on a Monday, Thursday or Sunday and lend a hand.
Fresh Air, Fresh Start Training Programme
This Saturday (18th February) we will be holding a workshop session at Mere Sands Wood Visitor Centre. Running from 10:30 to 12:30, the session is for those who are looking to run training courses as part of our 'Fresh Air, Fresh Start' programme and get them accredited.
Andy Reade of The Tree Bee Society will be hosting the session and he will explain how you can get your course accredited, thereby adding value and enabling those who attend your course to gain certificates.
This is the start of an exciting new phase for BCF. Becoming part of the 'Active West Lancs' programme will help us reach more people in the community and help them benefit from accessing new activities outdoors.
Getting their training accredited will help our trainers develop their courses and go on to reach wider audiences.
We are a working farm and our business is growing organic produce in a sustainable way. This is what will give us an economically stable future. However, researching, educating and inspiring are also on our agenda.
As usual, please feel free to contact me about anything regarding the farm, the newsletter or the web site. I love to hear your feedback and opinions. And don't forget, you are always welcome down on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10am.
t: 07803 925446