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Working Horse Demonstration at Daylesford

This week Ed has been up north in Gloucestershire at the annual Daylesford organic farm summer open day. The event sees 5,000 people come to visit the 2,000 acre mixed farm each year to get an insight into organic farming on such a large scale.

This year the event hosted the British Festival of the working horse with a particular emphasis on horticulture. As we have some of the most modern horticulture kit in the UK Ed was asked to bring it along and demonstrate what we do at Chagfood. As you can see from the photos it was fantastic cultivation weather and we were able to demonstrate very effectively the process we go through using both the Homesteader and the Kassine to work-up ground from pasture and create 1.2m vegetable beds.

The horses – Blackberry & Picasso – we’re provided by our good friend Mike Paddock. Considering they had only been working in harness for three months they were as fantastic a team of gypsy cobs as you could wish for!

Spring ‘pon the farm

This week’s spring weather has given us a chance to get in our first direct sowing at Rushford. Here you can see Nicky sowing carrots with our Earthway seeder. This variety, Nantes, will take around 10 weeks until they’re ready for harvest and its a bit of an experiment for us this year to see how we get on with an early sowing- but with any luck they should make an appearance in the first boxes in early July!

The continued dry spell has also enabled us to get ahead with our field cultivations and we have worked-up more than two acres over the past two weeks with the horses using a combination of the disc harrows and the spring-tine harrow with the Homesteader – more power to the hoof!

Good ol’ Muck!

This week we’ve been mostly spreading muck with our brand new horse-drawn forecart. The forecart is simply a two-wheeled cart with a tow hitch that is pulled by both Samson & Tally, onto which we can attach any number of implements from our Millcreek land-driven muck spreader to a set of chain harrows, rollers and even just a trailer. Ed knocked the cart together as he was getting a bit bored over the winter and we must say we’re mighty pleased with how it has turned out!

We are incredibly fortunate to have an endless supply of (mostly) well rotted organic farmyard manure from the over wintered cattle in the sheds at Rushford, ad even more fortunate to have two wonderfully biddable horses to do the hard work of spreading it for us! It has so far taken us a full day of spreading to cover half of our 5-acre plot. Whilst we were plodding away with our two-horse-power combination there were contractors spreading the rest of the 200 acres on the farm using 250HP New Holland’s and spreaders that shifted 15 tonnes an acre at a rate of ten acres an hour.

Still – it ain’t what you do its  the way that you do it – apparently!

Chagfood Spring Open Days Saturday 22nd & Saturday 29th March

Springtime is well and truly here with the daffodils blooming and the hawthorn budding. To celebrate Chagfood will be holding our annual Spring Open Days over the next two Saturdays at Longfield from noon. There will be farm tours as well as children’s activities including an Easter egg hunt, egg & spoon races, sack races and face painting, and of course mountains of home-made cakes, fresh teas & coffee.

Chagfood Open Days are an ideal opportunity to find out more about Chagfood, meet the growers and have a look around our fields. So if you – or anyone you know is thinking about signing up for a share for the coming season then bring them along!

Longfield is signed from Easton Cross on the A382 and directions are also on our website.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Chagfood is now taking on new Members for the 2014-15 growing season!

Chagfood is now taking on new Members for the 2014-2015 season. Chagfood is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme which was launched in March 2010 and has since been providing 70 local households with a weekly supply of ecologically-produced, seasonal vegetables.

Chagfood is not simply a veg-box scheme, its a new approach to buying fresh food which involves consumers in the risks and rewards of farming. Members are buying a “share” of what is ready to harvest on the field each week and and take an active interest in where their food is grown and how it is produced. As a result you will quickly become aware of what is in season in each particular week, how the weather affects your crops and what it is like to taste truly local, fresh produce. Chagfood hosts open days and seasonal festivities where Members are encouraged to come along and meet each other, see how their vegetables are growing and help out with seasonal tasks, this is also an opportunity to share in the rewards of the farm.

As well as the rewards that come from being part of a local food scheme members are also sharing in the risks of the farming year. If it is a good season for a particular crop, you can enjoy a bumper harvest, if however crops are lost due to pests or we are unable to harvest due to the weather, members share this loss between them. This year we’re expanding both large and small shares available. Small shares are suitable for individuals or a household of two and cost £440 for the year, or £36.66 a month. Large shares are suitable for a family household and are priced at £600 per year, or £50 per month. All shares are based on an estimate of 40-weeks supply throughout the growing season, beginning in June and ending in February.

To find out more about how Chagfood works click here

-If you would like to subscribe, or find out more about the scheme, please drop us an email; chagfood@gmail.com or give us a call on 07858 381539

An Ode to the Leeks!

As a grower it feels a little bit cheeky to have a favourite vegetable. In an ideal world all of you luscious Chagfood vegetables would be grown with indiscriminate attention to detail and careful husbandry. Regrettably this isn’t the case. Leeks have always been, are probably always will be, Eds favourite. And although all of the veg grown at Rushford this year has been cared for to the best of our ability our four leek beds – containing between them around 7,000 little beauties – have received unfair attention.

Using our newly-imported horse-drawn riding cultivator we have been able to thoroughly weed the leek beds every week throughout the main part of the summer. The result has been very clean growing conditions of which the little darlings have made the upmost.

The three varieties we have grown this year; Bandit, Tadorna and Hannibal, have been chosen to provide a broad supply throughout the autumn and winter months and, thanks to generous helpings of well-rotted organic muck combined with a fantastic growing season, we have managed to produce our most impressive leek crop to date.

First boxes of the new season!

Dear Chagfood Members!

It is with great pleasure that we deliver your first Chagfood box of the season.  After weeks and weeks of cultivating, sowing, planting out and weeding in the baking sunshine it feels like we’ve had a fantastic start to the summer and the crops are looking very healthy as a result. The picture on the right shows our sprinklers in action at Longfield today – testament to the fact that we’ve recieved less than 3mm of rain over the past month!

Inside this week’s box you’ll find the first crops grown on our new site at Rushford Mill. The waxy new potatoes are from a variety called “Casablanca” and have been growing since mid March. They are best lightly boiled for 10-12 minutes and then eaten immediately with a sprinkle of salt & pepper and healthy serving of butter. You will also find either a spring cabbage or some kale which was sown last autumn and has grown right through the winter. The crispy fresh mixed salad was grown at Longfield along with the beetroot, chard, fresh herbs and flowers (for those of you fortunate enough to get them this week).

This is a true early season box which represents the end of the hungry-gap and the start of the fresh vegetable year. We hope you enjoy eating it as much as we’ve enjoyed growing it .

Some of you will have heard by now that we are holding our inaugural “Annual potato weeding party” tomorrow (Friday 12th July) from 9am at Rushford. You are all invited to come along to see the new field, help us find the potatoes, have some tea & cake and join us for a swim in the river.  It would be fantastic to have as much help as possible – even for an hour or so. We’ll be there all day so feel free to call us for directions and pop along anytime.

Early summer ‘pon the field

Things are well and truly underway with the growing season. This week we managed to plant out around 450 squash plants at Rushford and place an old tyre delicately around each one. This is a handy tip passed on to us by another local grower and the hope is that the tyres will warm up in the sunshine and create a sort of micro-climate around each plant. As a result we would hope to get an improved squash harvest compared to last year – even if the weather remains unsettled for the rest of the summer. Meanwhile we have been attempting to do battle with a sudden wave of weeds that has swept over the potatoes. We have hand-weeded 600m of a total of 3,000 meters. It is important to keep the potato ridges clean as it makes for much easier and more efficient harvesting – and this is one of those jobs which will save a lot more time in the future if it is done right now.

Over at Longfield the majority of the salad and leaf crops are planted out, along with the fennel and herbs, it often takes us by surprise this time of year just how quickly the field changes from a patch of cultivated soil to a flourishing market garden over the space of a few long days. Jobs over the next week will include planting out several hundred sweetcorn seedlings, a few hundred cauliflowers and a renewed weeding campaign.

Thank you to all those of you who came along to our fourth annual summer open day on Saturday. The weather was fantastic and the cakes were spectacular. We are still looking to take on more members for this year so, again, please pass on the word and tell people they are welcome to pop in to Longfield anytime to have a look around.

This week’s share will be available from your usual collection points slightly earlier than usual, from Thursday 20th June. There is a bag of salad and a bag of spinach or chard for everyone. Please note LARGE shares receive a slightly larger bag of both salad and spinach/chard than SMALL shares. The two sized bags will be kept separate at your collection point and clearly labelled. Please make sure you know which size share you have and take the correct bags, otherwise we tend to spend a lot of time harvesting extra produce for those who miss out.

Until next week – enjoy the longest day – and the inevitable sunshine!

Chagfood Summer Open Day Saturday 15th June

Chagfood community market garden is now taking on new members for the 2013-14 growing season. We are holding our annual summer open day on Saturday 15th June from mid-day until late. Come along to see the fields and working horse demonstrations, bring a picnic, meet the growers and find out more about the scheme, children’s activities, tea & cake.

Chagfood is a community supported market garden which supplies ecologically-produced veg-shares to Chagford and neighbouring parishes. It is a subscription farming scheme meaning that customers become members and commit to support the garden from April to April each year, in return they receive an equal share of what is harvested from the gardens each week. Chagfood members tend to feel a lot more connected to where their food is coming from, they are actively involved in the risks as well as the rewards of the farming year meaning that if there is a bumper crop everyone gets a bit more, but if there is a crop loss everyone gets a bit less.

Chagfood shares are available in two sizes, a small share costs £440 for the year or £36.66 each month, a large share costs £600 for the year or £50 each month. Everything Chagfood produces is grown within one-mile of Chagford meaning that our supply is entirely seasonal, we aim to supply a full box from July through to Christmas with smaller seasonal shares each week from January to June.

For more information click “how to subscribe” or get in touch.

Chagfood Spring Open Day POSTPONED… until Spring!

On Friday we took the regrettable and last minute decision to postpone our planned spring open day. Unfortunately we had 35mm of rain over 48 hours from Wednesday evening and the forecast for Saturday was just as bad (see the photo). Although we know many of you would have braved the elements just to show your support for our wonderful community market garden – we thought it would be much better to postpone the event until we can actually enjoy some spring weather at the field.

The new date for your diaries is Saturday 13th April from noon until late – when there will be tea, cake, children’s activities, working horse demonstration & bountiful sunshine! Not to mention our free prize draw giving you a chance to win a “Tea for Two” at Gidleigh Park Hotel – just by turning up! We’ll be publicising the event nearer the time but in the meantime please pass on the word and help us to make it a real springtime celebration to be remembered!