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Your Monthly Newsletter

Church Farm Friday 25th May 2012

A Note from the Grower

Campfire and Art Over our next Campfire Weekend at the farm (Sat 9th June), we’re privileged to play host to a fantastic art exhibition. It stops here for the day on its tour of Britain, bringing an amazing sculpture trail to our land that asks you to ‘Think About What You Eat’ and also an exhibition of other works on the Olympic theme. We’ve still got some tickets for that night’s campfire as well. Contribution: Adults £10, Under 16s £8, Under 2s £2. Free for musicians and farm members. You can book online, by calling 01438 861 447 or emailing If you can’t make this one, there are campfire weekends on 21st July and 25th August.

Deals of the Week 20% off all frozen meat and 20% off sausages! That’s two fantastic offers from our butchers, available now in the Church Farm Store.

Getting the Best from your Box Mushrooms should be used within two to three days to get them at their very best. The most suitable storage is in a paper bag (which helps prevent drying and keeps the light out), in the vegetable drawer of your fridge where there is air circulation. Some people suggest you can keep them longer by wrapping the mushrooms in paper towels (changed daily) and storing the whole lot in a sealed plastic bag. Although it seems easier to give in to the temptation and tuck into them straight away. As with most vegetables, you can cook your mushrooms and then freeze them if you really won’t have the chance to use them this weekend.   Eat them raw: if you clean and prepare them mushrooms taste great raw, in a salad or just dipped in sour cream as a delicious snack. Garlic mushrooms: the simplest recipes are often the best, especially with lovely fresh mushrooms. Fry up garlic and shallots in a pan for a few minutes, add chunky slices of mushroom you can add some white wine as they start to change colour and for a real treat some single cream and parmesan cheese.   For some really fancy recipes have a look at www.moretomushrooms. com, it’s got enough ideas to make a different dish every day of the year.

The War on Slugs Revisited Remember I wrote a note back in November last year on the various ways we deal with slugs and snails in the polytunnels? Well we have recently discovered a new weapon to use. Sheep fleece! And I have to give credit to Tim Waygood for making this discovery. Searching the internet for the best price for organic slug pellets, we both saw a new product on offer called wool pellets. This is an item manufactured from sheep’s fleece, the principle being that the pellets, scattered around susceptible plants, form a barrier that slugs are reluctant to cross. The texture of the fibres and the oil they contain is uncomfortable for those greedy gastropods’ slimy skin, and they go get their breakfast elsewhere. To my detriment I failed to make the connection, but happily Tim did. At Church Farm, of course, we naturally have tons of raw sheep fleece on hand and an unlimited supply into the future, thanks to our beautiful Black Welsh Mountain and Lleyn sheep. Recently we had planted out our French Dwarf and Climbing beans in Polytunnel 3, and very fine they looked too at first. Then the slugs started tucking in, and many plants were left resembling intricate lacework, or even completely destroyed. Beer traps were installed but these were not effective enough to stop the spring population explosion of those leaf-munching molluscs. Armed with a load of that wool, we placed a ring of the material around the base of each plant, and this has clearly made a great difference. The dwarf beans finally have a chance to replace lost leaves and branch out, and the climbers are now happily winding onto their strings. And there’s plenty more fleece where that came from. Three bags full! Rik

Box Member Questionnaire Results Last week, we sent out an anonymous online questionnaire to the recipients of our Farm Boxes. We want to make sure that we’re giving everyone the best possible produce and service, and to get the input from our members on how we can make the scheme work even better for them! Amazingly, over half of our Box Scheme members have already responded! Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to give us feedback. Have a look at the summary of results below and keep an eye out for more info on our website soon. There’s still time to fill in your questionnaire if you’ve not had chance to complete it yet!

97% Of Farm Box scheme customers rate the quality of our produce as good or very good!

“We love getting our box. We signed up originally because my son really enjoyed looking round the vegetable garden at the farm - it seemed a good opportunity to link what we eat to our local area.”

45% Of people who receive our boxes also grow their own veg! We never would have guessed it was that many. We hold monthly volunteer days (meet at 10.30 on the last Saturday of every month), so anyone who wants to get some tips from our growers should come and join in.

“Thank-you for the commitment and dedicated hard-work of all the farmers and the experience of the farm days. It is excellent that the farming experience can be opened up for people to participate in so they can appreciate what is involved in producing our food.”

“Our box is tailored for us, in that we do have larger portions of the staples which is fantastic. When we then have a surplus of carrots we juice them, and make onion soup or onion bahjis, if we have too many onions. I have found Fran very helpful in accommodating our needs.” Membership of the Farm Box scheme comes with a range of benefits. We asked our customers which was the most important one to them, and it’s really interesting to know what they value most.

30% Of box scheme members came to us through a word of mouth recommendation! Thank you to everyone who has been spreading the word.

99% Of Farm Box scheme customers rate our customer service as good or very good!

“I really appreciate the flexibility with the box scheme. Every request I’ve made has been accommodated. Thank you. My husband...and visitors always comment on how great the meat is.” There is a really wide range of reasons for choosing our farm box scheme. It’s great to see that 91% of people selected us as a way to support local enterprise.

“Great scheme overall, we’re pleased to be buying local food and supporting a local business.”


Of customers didn’t know that they could add an item from the Farm Store or butchery on a one-off basis. We need to make sure we’re getting this message across so people are aware of what’s available to them.

“We love the farm boxes - especially the meat, it tastes fantastic. The farm is a great place to visit with children our daughter loves it and it is our go to place if we have a spare couple of hours (and there must always be a visit to the café included great food and lovely staff - in fact all the staff I have had the pleasure of dealing with have been lovely). Whatever you are doing it works! So please don’t stop!”

15% Of those with large or extralarge veg boxes said they’d prefer more staples instead of the current variety. That’s already an option we offer! Anyone who wants to talk about how we can make their box better suit their needs can call us 7 days a week on 01438 861 447.

Next Week’s Farm Members’ Box

MEAT (small box)

A few members of our fantastic box team. Thank you to them and all of the other people on the farm who are involved in making this scheme such a success.

Our members like to be involved at different levels with the farm. It’s great to see that so many come to visit for a variety of reasons. Remember, as a member, you get 20% off events and workshops, and all visitors get 50% off kids’ meals in the pub and café.

Farm Variety Sausages, whole/portion chicken, diced beef, minced lamb, back bacon Lean Cuts (NEW FOR 2012) Skinny sausages, skinless chicken fillets, extra lean minced lamb, extra lean pork stir fry Premium Selection Sausages, whole/breast chicken, back bacon

VEGETABLES Extra Small (6 varieties) Potatoes (white sante), carrots, onions, vine tomato, celery, courgette Small (8 varieties) Calabrese, red ramiro pepper, fennel Medium (10 varieties) Beetroot, mangetout Large (12 varieties) Half white cabbage

Farm Experience Day

The last Saturday of the month is almost upon us once again and we are inviting all Farm Box members to come along for a Farm Experience Day. Come and lend a hand and see for yourselves where your produce comes from. All ages welcome and we’ll find tasks to suit the group and weather on the day. Meet outside the café at 10:30 for an 11.00 start with Laura or Sam.

Letchworth Food and Garden Festival If you were down at the Festival last week you may have spotted our stall through the BBQ smoke and crowds of people coming to try our delicious meat. We had a great time meeting new people and telling them all about the farm. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and took the time to find out about our way of farming. We’ve had some great feedback already - one person told us they came to visit the farm the very next day. There’s also been a lot of interest in our Farm Boxes from people who came to the Festival, with several new members signing up to join the scheme. It’s great to be able to get out and spread the word about Church Farm, if you know of any upcoming events that you think it would be good to get us along to, just let us know. We can bring a BBQ, some of our tasty produce, and sometimes even an animal or two!

Extra Large (15 varieties) Garlic, salad bag, radish

FRUIT (extra large box)

Apples (red delicious), plums, apricots, rhubarb, cherries, mangos Please note that these are standard items and are subject to change. If you have asked not to be supplied with a particular item, a substitute will be provided in your box.

Real Ales: Real Food : Warm Welcome at the

Jolly Waggoner

Book a table today to avoid disappointment on 01438 861 350! Join us for the Jubilee Weekend Mid week fixed price lunch - 2 courses for £12, coming soon Special Offers: “Pimms & Pitchers” in celebration of Summer - free cheesy chips with every pitcher of Pimms, lager or bitter Celebrate your birthday with us and get a free bottle of wine for each table of 6 or more people.

Rural Care Try New Things During the farm’s day at the Letchworth Food and Garden Festival, one of the co-farmers volunteered to help out on the stall. This was a great indication of their growing confidence and a chance to experience the farm in a totally different context. We are lucky to be able to offer such opportunities to our co-farmers as not everyone wishes to be working in the fields all the time. We have one co-farmer who helps in the café kitchen every other week and sometimes in the Jolly Waggoner kitchen. Another helps out front serving café customers for a morning every other week. Additionally, we are starting to offer short sessions for co-farmers helping out in the farm store, another chance to build confidence, learn new skills and meet different people.

Sesame Sausages with Peppers and Pak Choi

This is irresistible fusion food, combining British, Chinese and Mediterranean cuisines. Serves 4 Ingredients 2 large red peppers, halved lengthways and deseeded 2 large yellow peppers, halved lengthways and deseeded 6 thick pork sausages, about 400g 2 tbsp tomato ketchup 2 tbsp hoisin sauce 3 heads pak choi, separated into leaves 3 tbsp sesame seeds sesame-sausages-with-peppers-andpak-choi.aspx

Method 1. Preheat a moderate grill. Put the peppers and sausages on the rack of a grill pan and grill for 15–20 minutes, turning them from time to time until the sausages are evenly browned and cooked through and the peppers are tender and lightly charred. 2. Meanwhile, mix together the tomato ketchup and hoisin sauce in a shallow bowl. Tear the pak choi into bite-sized pieces and put into a serving dish. 3. Using tongs, transfer the sausages to the ketchup mixture and roll them over to coat evenly. Cover the grill pan rack with foil. Place the sausages back on the foil and grill for a further 1 minute or until the glaze is bubbling. Turn the sausages and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, then cook for another 1 minute until the seeds are golden. 4. Cut the peppers into wide strips and thickly slice the sausages on the diagonal. Add both the pepper strips and sausage slices to the pak choi, toss together and serve while still warm.

Why we love Sustainably Produced UK Charcoal Over 90% of all charcoal consumed in this country is transported from far overseas, predominantly the endangered tropical rainforest and mangrove habitats of South America, West Africa and South East Asia.

Summer Salads In the Café Now that Summer has finally showed its face, we’re updating the menu in the Café to include some lovely new dishes made from seasonal Church Farm produce. Keep an eye out for a delicious Free Range Chicken Caesar Salad and a Salad Lyonnaise made with our own orchard eggs and Church Farm bacon.

Product of the Month: High Weald Cheese

The Farm Store now has a new range of delicious cheeses from a family-run farm in Sussex. It is a certified organic dairy farm, and all of the cheeses produced are suitable for vegetarians! Come to the store to find out about the exciting new flavours (including Chilli Marble and Brother Michael), or contact us to have cheese included in your farm box (info@churchfarmardeley.

Jolly Waggoner Saturday 16th June - Rural Care Fundraising Evening - live music and Ceilidh from 7.30pm, plus a BBQ of farm food to tuck in to. Saturday 28th July - 1st Annual Beer Festival featuring at least 10 guest ales from noon onwards. (Please note, this event was previously incorrectly advertised as Wednesday 25th, we apologise for any confusion.)

In our Farm Store, we only supply charcoal from The Dorset Charcoal Company, who work hard to produce sustainable local British charcoal. The wood they use is taken as part of good woodland management, which finds a use for lower value wood, such as thinning or mis-shapen waste, and encourages the restoration of derelict coppice. This is the best method for protecting wildlife. We sell 3kg and 5kg bags of this sustainably produced charcoal in the Farm Store, so when the weather gets a little nicer, why not pop in to stock up for your barbecue.

Church Farm, Ardeley, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG2 7AH, T: 01438 861 447 E:

Profile for Agrarian Renaissance

May 2012 Church Farm Newsletter  

Check out our weekly newsletters - published every Friday - which include information about the Farm, Café and Store and events and workshop...

May 2012 Church Farm Newsletter  

Check out our weekly newsletters - published every Friday - which include information about the Farm, Café and Store and events and workshop...