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Your Monthly Newsletter

Church Farm Friday 28th January 2011

Spring is on its way January has felt almost tropical after the coldest December for over 120 years. Hazel catkins are out and snow drops are about to flower - these are the first signs that spring is approaching. In the weeks and months to come everything springs to life, plants, bugs, bees, animals, trees..... the days are getting noticeably longer, the majesty of spring will soon be upon us by June the new woods will be like a garden of Eden, orchards fruiting and the landscape as different as can be imagined from a walk around the farm today.

A Note from the Grower

Farm Butchery

15% off pedigree Berkshire pork Open 9am-5pm

Farming: A huge learning curve Early carrots are being seeded in the polytunnels which help us extend the seasons and provide fresh vegetables and herbs throughout the year. This is our third year growing over a 100 varieties of vegetables and herbs as well as producing and butchering our own beef, pork, lamb and poultry on site. It has been a huge learning curve and takes a long time to establish some crops - we will have a full range of soft fruit this summer from the canes and plants put in in 2009. The 7 acres of orchard will give us our first modest harvest this year and it’ll reach full production in 2014. As for the walnut plantation, it will be at least 5 more years before we harvest. The forest garden and edible boundaries around Beards Oak will come into production around the same time.

More About... FARM: shop

Enter FARM:Shop. A project by Something & Son which has turned a run-down shop in Dalston (London) with questionable wallpaper into a self-sustaining vertical farm with fish tanks in the front room, aquaponics, hydroponics, plants spiralling up walls, a polytunnel in the back garden, a mushroom farm in the basement and a chicken coop on the roof. All this surrounds a busy café serving food grown on site or brought from its big sister, Church Farm in Ardeley, Hertfordshire (a crucial link for the project). FARM:shop will be fully operational from the end of February and is currently open for tours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. Please visit for more details.

Hello, I’m Richard and I work here at Church Farm as part of the horticulture team. Here we are right at the beginning of the new growing year. It’s an exciting time reading the seed catalogues and making orders for the new growing season; improving on what we grew last year and taking chances on new varieties that we’ve heard are good but have not tried ourselves. The picture above is the first tunnel that has been prepared with deep no dig beds. Each bed is 18 metres long and will be sown with 6 rows of Amsterdam Forcing and Early Nantes carrots. This will be an impressive 324 metres of early carrots, which you should find in your boxes, as well as in the Farm Store, in early to mid June. The great thing about working on a truly mixed farm is that the manure to fill these deep beds is provided in-house from our Red Poll cattle, meaning that we are self sufficient and sustainable as a real food producing farm. Richard Veg items in your box this week: Extra Small (6 varieties) Potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, white cabbage and aubergine Small (8 varieties) Swede and red kale Medium (10 varieties) Avocado and parsnips Large (12 varieties) Cucumber and beetroot Extra Large boxes include larger portions of any of the above items Please note that these are standard items, if you have asked not to be supplied with a particular vegetable and it appears above, a substitute will be provided in your box.

Recipes of the Week

Cheesy Leek and Potato Pie

Serves 4


A slightly odd, but really fantastic combination that must be tried.

* 3 leeks , cut into chunks * small knob butter * pinch dried rosemary or thyme * 450g potatoes (1 very large baking potato is perfect), chopped into thick slices * 140g melting cheese , such as cheddar, cut into small chunks * 500g pack shortcrust pastry * 1 egg , beaten

Chicken in Milk


• 1 x 1.5k/ 3½lb organic chicken • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper • 115g/4oz or ½ a pack of butter • olive oil • 1/2 cinnamon stick • 1 good handful of fresh sage, leaves picked • zest of 2 lemons • 10 cloves of garlic, skin left on • 565ml/1 pint milk


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5, and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season it generously all over, and fry it in the butter and a little olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even colour all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the oil and butter left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan which will give you a lovely caramelly flavour later on. Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook in the preheated oven for 1½ hours. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce which is absolutely fantastic. To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato. Source:

Meat items in your box this week: The Church Farm Butchery team has included whole chicken, minced beef, lamb chops, traditional English sausages and bacon.

Fruit items in your box this week: Apples (russet), clementines, conference pears and lemons

Important note for Farm Box Customers Any changes to your farm box order must be received by 4pm on Wednesdays for Friday delivery.

Rural Care The team have been painting signs in the shape of the various birds that can be spotted on the farm. These will be displayed in the woodlands for the visiting public to walk around and refer to as a means to identify birds. The co-farmers have also cut an existing willow hedge and replanted it behind the farm’s wildlife pond to create a natural barrier.



1. Put the leeks, butter and herbs in a pan, cover and cook over a low heat for about 20 mins until very soft, stirring occasionally. While the leeks are cooking, put the potatoes in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 mins until just cooked. Drain the potatoes and stir into the cooked leeks. Leave to cool, stir in the cheese and season with plenty of pepper and salt if you want. The filling can now be chilled for use the following day, if you like. 2. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Divide the pastry in two and roll one of the pieces to the size of a dinner plate. Transfer this to a baking sheet and roll the remaining pastry and any trimmings to a round about 5cm bigger than the first. Pile the filling into the middle of the round on the baking sheet, leaving a 4cm border. Brush the border with the beaten egg, then drape over the larger piece of pastry. Trim the edges to neaten, then press the sides together with your thumb. Brush the tart all over with egg. Bake for 35-40 mins until golden. Leave to rest for 10 mins before cutting into wedges and serving with beans or greens.

Farm Store Product Of The Week Bio D household cleaners, detergents & soaps. We try where possible with all of the products we stock in our farm store to make ethical, environmental and sustainable choices. Domestic pollution damages the environment more than conventional industrial pollution. Many of the ingredients contained in conventional household cleaners, detergents and soaps are known to have detrimental and damaging effects on the environment and humankind. Bio-D is an independent, family-owned, ethically motivated company, dedicated to promoting the use of hypoallergenic, environmentally responsible detergents that have a minimum impact on the ecosystem both in their use and in their manufacturing process. Where possible, all raw materials are plant-derived and are obtained from renewable sources. For these reasons we are pleased to promote and sell the products instore. What’s more, all bottles, containers and packaging contain optimum levels of re-cycled materials and are themselves recyclable. See in store for further details.

Do come and visit... We are now feeding ourselves and hundreds of other local people with food produced direct from the farm to the fork. The amazing diversity of bug, bird and wildlife that the farm supports is thanks to our customers buying fresh food direct from the farm. Do come for a look around the farm anytime to see how your food is grown. There are paths covering the farm and vegetable growing areas and the butchery, store and cafe are open everyday from 9am to 5pm.

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

January 2011 Church Farm Monthly Newsletter  

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

January 2011 Church Farm Monthly Newsletter  

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