Time to harvest
Harvest & celebrate Enjoy your harvest, gather in the last of the summer crops, orchard fruits and hedgerow berries. Reflect in the morning mists and marvel at the spider webs.
Contents Autumn at Trill Farm, Romy Fraser Slowing down, Ashley Wheeler Turning, Sandra Hill Autumn eating, Daphne Lambert Bees - Swarms & honey, Noel Lakin The dilemmas of livestock farming, Jake Hancock Hedgerows - Wild foraging for health and beauty, Amanda Cook Autumn, Julian Barnard Trill people
at Trill Farm After a late spring then a hot dry summer, we move into autumn. It’s still very warm, though. I am confidently told that current bee behavior indicates we should expect a hard winter. Certainly the evenings are getting longer and the misty mornings have been beautiful with the dewy spider webs and wet grass. The old railway track that creates the main north-south artery across Trill Farm has been left to grow all year and the wild fruit is filling the pathway. We have a bumper blackberry, hawthorn berry, rosehip and sloe harvest to collect in. Our new pear trees are bearing their first fruit and so we have been busy harvesting, preserving and making products. Daphne has made a scrumptious bramble jelly. Zoe and Sandie with the help of wwoofers produced a delicious apple and elderberry juice. Joe has made a wonderful leather transforming boot wax. This is to help waterproof your footwear on those long autumn walks. Aching backs from autumn gardening can be soothed with the fragrant warming balm. Use on feet too! We’re always busy and are planning our next year’s boxes with Tamsin before she disappears with the family for a few months travelling. We are also planning our course programme for 2015. We are just reaching the deadline for applications for our new Director of Education. We are all looking forward to introducing you to the new member of our team. Meanwhile, put our Trill Halloween party in your diary, we hope to see you there! Enjoy your harvest, gather in the last of the summer crops, orchard fruits and hedgerow berries.
SLOWIN G D OW N by Ashley Wheeler
Autumn comes around as quickly as spring does. It is as much of a surprise to see the leaves turning on the trees as it is to see the first snowdrops. It is now the time that everything slows down, as days become shorter and the air cools; and although autumn is very much harvest time, the fruiting crops are past their best. We start eating more kale, squash and autumn salads, where chicory takes the main stage. It is also the time of year that we must think about the following season. Some crops such as garlic and broad beans are planted in autumn, so the land must be ready for them. We will be covering some of the ground with plastic groundcover (which I have mixed feelings about) and much will be sown with cereal rye, seed of which we saved from this yearâ€™s crop. We left a small area to mature into the grain, and our volunteers hand cut and threshed it, giving us plenty of seed to re-sow this autumn. Cereal rye is a wonderful groundcover over winter, and is especially good mixed with vetch. The rye is a deep rooting plant that holds onto nutrients that would otherwise be leached away by the winter rains, and it binds the soil together so that erosion is minimised. The vetch is a leguminous plant so will also fix a little nitrogen before being incorporated into the soil in the spring. The plastic helps to protect the soil from the winter weather. We will be covering up areas that we hope to plant-up early, so that all of the weeds
are killed off and we can just rake the soil in the spring rather than having to cultivate it, which can be quite harmful to the soil structure if it is still wet. It is a struggle to cultivate the land early here, as it is so poorly drained, so this should alleviate this problem, allowing us to crop slightly earlier than normal on this soil. We also have two new polytunnels this year, which we will take advantage of by growing earlier crops of carrots, beetroot, spring onions and garlic. Polytunnels will be emptied of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans and filled with small salad plants, winter herbs and early peas. These overwintering plants will slowly establish themselves, but not produce much until early spring when they will suddenly leap into action as day length increases significantly. We saved seed from some of these plants, such as chervil, parsley, mizuna and winter lettuce, so we will be sowing our own seed for next yearâ€™s crop. We have selected the healthiest looking plants, and in the case of salads and herbs, those that rose to seed the latest, to maximise leaf production.
Autumn is a relief from the hectic summer, and although there is still plenty to harvest and much planting to be done in the polytunnels, the pace of work slows; it is a good time to prepare for next year and look forward to a good winter break! Ash and Kate have created a vegetable growing enterprise, Trill Farm Garden at Trill Farm, supplying the Trill kitchen as well as neighbouring restaurants with fresh, seasonal, varied produce.
by Sandra Hill
As the year turns towards autumn, there is a natural tendency towards withdrawal. The sap moves back towards the roots of the trees and they begin to lose their leaves. The expansive nature of the summer months resolves with an inner movement of conservation and consolidation. In nature there is the joy of harvest, but also cutting back, digging in, preparing the soil for a new yearâ€™s planting. And within the human psyche, there is the harvest of experience, a decision of where next, which projects to take forward, which to let go. The astrological sign of Libra, which begins at the autumn equinox, is represented by the scales; a time to weigh things up, make judgements, and allow some things to drop away. In many traditions, autumn is a time linked with sadness and melancholy; it is the sadness of the transition from light to dark, from the expansion and warmth of the summer to the contraction and cold of the winter - and the inevitable sadness of letting go. But there is also a beauty in this melancholy, and in learning to let go, we make room for new things to develop, new seeds to grow. Many eastern cultures see this time of year as the most poetic, the most enigmatic, the most subtly beautiful... A time of obscuring mists and things half unseen... This feeling of the unseen is almost caricatured in the festival of Halloween, a modern reminder of the celtic Samhain, the Christian All Souls - and, in the east, the Gate of the Dead - which all celebrate this darkest of the cross quarter days of the traditional northern hemisphere calendar. This is the time when the veil between the worlds is thin - care must be taken not to slip into the underworld. Fire crackers ensure that the souls of the dead do not come too close to the living.
This is the time of descent into the underworld, but it also represents a time of inner contemplation. Autumn can be a difficult if we resist change, or are maybe addicted to activity and expansion - but expansion is inevitably balanced with contraction - the outward movement of the summer by the inner movement of the winter - and at the autumn equinox, these two are in dynamic balance. In traditional medicine this movement from the expansive nature of summer to the closure of the winter months can have a debilitating effect on the lungs the organ of the body which most likes to expand! We have all experienced how sudden changes in the weather at this time of year can affect the lungs, as they act as a first line of defence. But in traditional medical systems, the lungs are also affected by sadness and melancholy; and it is this same action of closure, of constriction, which literally creates a pressure in the chest and heart, and an inability to breathe deeply. The chest becomes restricted and the breathing shallow, which can lead to a kind of disengagement with life.
Letâ€™s celebrate the beauty of the autumn! Not simply regret the end of summer, but enjoy the softness of the light, the subtle colours of the leaves, the morning mists... And most of all, remember to breathe! Sandra Hill, acupuncturist, teacher and publisher, has worked with Romy for over 15 years establishing courses in various aspects of natural medicine and cowriting The Roots of Health. In 2003, she became a trustee of The Trill Trust.
Autumn eating by Daphne Lambert Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn!” George Eliot Windfall apples, blackberry picking, mushroom gathering, elderberry stained hands, golden corn & bright orange pumpkins, its autumn! The season of gathering in the harvest and preserving for the leaner months ahead. Prior to the invention of the refrigerator and its widespread use, whilst some food may have been stored in ice houses, the majority of food was preserved by salting, smoking, drying, pickling and fermenting. By the end of the 19th century, sugar from cane was readily available and begun to be used as a preservative; in addition, home grown sugar from beet has been used in the last 100 years. Traditionally salting was only feasible where sea or land salt were easy to obtain and today this method of preserving is most commonly used for meats and fish. Smoking is a very ancient preserving technique, and preserves foods through the action of the anti-oxidants and bactericides present in the wood smoke. Sun- and air-dried foods obviously relied on the right climate. Today, even without the sun warm air can be utilised. Commercially, large drums are used and on a domestic scale it is easy to dry foods, especially herbs and fruits, in a small dehydrator. The tradition of pickling and fermenting are deep-rooted in many cultures: these techniques give us wine, beer, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, miso, cheese, tempeh, bread and so much more. The autumn months see a shift from the expansive phase of summer towards greater concentration and focus. Slowly everything in nature begins to contract and move its energy inwards, and we enter a quieter, more reflective period. Take time to wonder at the clear starry nights and the beauty of the first hoarfrost and above all, find time to spend in the kitchen with the bountiful autumn harvest.
Daphne Lambert is Medicinal Chef & Nutritionist. Daphne is writing her third book ‘Living Food - a feast for soil & soul’. She is the director of Greencuisine Trust, an educational charity working to deepen the understanding between soil, food and well-being.
PUMPKIN BREAD 1¾1b (800g) pumpkin 2 tablespoons finely chopped pumpkin seeds 2½ 1b (1 kg) strong white flour 2 teaspoons salt 1 oz (25g) yeast
Oven 200°C Cook the pumpkin, strain (reserve the cooking liquid) and sieve. Dissolve the yeast in a little of the cooking liquid and leave 10 minutes until foaming. Mix flour, salt, yeast, sieved pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and enough of the cooking liquid together until you have a soft malleable dough. Knead for 5 minutes, turn into an oiled bowl and leave, covered, in a warm place, until double in size. Turn the dough out and shape into rolls. Place on a lightly oiled baking tray and leave to double in size before baking in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes.
1lb (450g) elderberries 8fl oz (220ml) water sugar
Vinegarâ€™s acidity makes it an effective solvent and preservative for extracting flavours and phytochemicals from fruits and herbs.
Gently cook the elderberries in the water until soft, strain, and to each pint of liquid add 12 oz sugar, boil for 5 minutes, bottle in clean sterilised bottles and cork or cap tightly.
Fill a jar with just picked blackberries, cover with the vinegar and leave to infuse in a cool dark place for a month. Strain and bottle.
Spiked & spiced hot cider 1 litre cider 6 cloves 3 star anise 3 cinnamon sticks 3 fl oz rum Combine the cider and spices together in a medium pan and gently heat until hot but do not allow to boil. Remove from the heat add the rum and serve.
Variations Add a few sprigs of rosemary or grated horseradish or ginger to the jar with the elderberries. Uses: 1 tablespoon in a glass of warm water to ward off colds or as part of a winter salad dressing.
ROsehip chutney 1 pint (570ml) fresh hips, seeds removed 1 pint (570ml) cider vinegar or wine vinegar 8oz (225g) raisins or sultanas 1Â˝ lb (700g) cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped knob of ginger grated 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp ground cloves 2 chopped cloves garlic Â˝ lb (225g) sugar juice and zest 1 lemon juice and zest 1 orange Soak the rosehips, raisins or sultanas, and apples in vinegar overnight. After soaking, place the rosehips with remaining ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened. Leave to cool, then place the chutney in clean, dry jars. Store chutney in a cool place. Keep for at least a month before using. Many of the hedgerow fruits ripened early this year. If you can still find elderberries and blackberries, the syrup and vinegar are good store cupboard standbys.
Stuffed cabbage leaves with carrot & ginger sauce 12 savoy cabbage leaves 4 oz (110g) sprouted wheat 6 oz (175g) mushrooms, sliced 2 red onions, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, diced 1 tsp chopped thyme, chopped parsley 5 finely shredded sun dried tomatoes 1 oz (25g) butter 1 fl oz (30ml) olive oil extra oil and a little stock Cook the onions, mushrooms and garlic in the butter and olive oil until turning golden. Add the thyme, parsley, sundried tomatoes and sprouted wheat. Set aside. Trim the stalks off the cabbage leaves and take a slice off the base to give a flat edge. Boil a pot of water and drop in leaves. Cook for 2 minutes, remove and drop into cold water. After 5 minutes dry leaves. Place a tablespoon of filling at the base of the leaf and roll up. Put the parcel in an oiled dish and repeat until all the leaves are filled and rolled. Sprinkle with olive oil and a little stock, cover and bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes.To serve: Spoon some carrot-ginger sauce on each plate and place 2 stuffed leaves on top.
Carrot & ginger sauce 1 onion, 2 carrots, chopped splash of sherry, splash of olive oil pinch salt, pinch sugar 1 tsp ground coriander, grated ginger 2 pints (1.2 litres) stock salt and black pepper Cook onion with olive oil, sherry, salt and sugar until soft and just caramelizing. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to boil and cook for 40 minutes, cool slightly, blend and season.
BEES SWARMS & HONEY
by NOEL LARKIN
It’s an accepted adage of beekeeping that you don’t normally get swarms and a surplus of honey. This has certainly been the case at Trill this summer with two hives swarming and neither having managed to get enough honey for themselves never mind a worthwhile harvest for us. Both hives were split three ways to subdue the swarming impulse and only one of the new queens was subsequently lost. Many beekeepers clip one of the queen’s wings once she has successfully mated and there’s often a misapprehension that this is done to stop swarming. In actual fact the practice merely delays the process while the colony waits for a young queen to emerge, ready and able to form the critical component of a viable swarm. The reassurance of this delay can be welcome when adverse weather conditions are making weekly swarm inspections virtually impossible but there is a considerable downside to be taken into account. A clipped queen will try to fly, as her swarm emerges, but will, invariably in my experience, be lost in the process. The loss of a proven laying queen is a major loss to her colony (and the beekeeper) and will create a significant ‘generation gap’ in the spring build up prior to the summer honey flow. The general maxim; ‘control the queen and you control the colony’ is nowhere more apt than in the various manipulations used to deal with the bees’ preparations for swarming. Following the loss of a mature queen, the ace is no longer in your hand and you are left to try to sort out a large and prosperous colony that is already in a most unnatural state of affairs.
Furthermore, any young unmated queen that subsequently swarms is very likely to fly much higher than her mother would have managed and such swarms may well settle high in a nearby tree well beyond the reach of the tallest stepladder! It is all too easy to be distracted and caught up in the interest, and perhaps excitement, that swarms generate. It should, however, always be remembered that it is those hives that do not make preparations to swarm which provide most of the surplus honey for considerably less effort on the part of the beekeeper. Although some strains of honeybee are less prone to swarming than others, the total elimination of the impulse would not necessarily be very desirable. Queens raised under normal swarming conditions are assumed to be of very high quality and the break in brood rearing that occurs with swarming often contributes to the overall health of the colony. The honey at Trill is extracted manually and this may well appear less efficient than using an electric extractor. The ‘wet’ honeycombs are however returned immediately to the hive of origin and the bees waste no time in taking the residue honey down for future use. Even without serious overharvesting and regardless of the weather, starvation in August remains a distinct possibility if the beekeepers eye is ‘off the ball’ after all that hard work. One advantage of our ‘method’ is that we inadvertently share the harvest with our bees and do not immediately have to worry about the bees going short of food in the middle of summer!
Noel is the beekeeper at Trill Farm. There are seven hives situated in the Water Meadow. He runs courses in beekeeping at Trill and we sell the honey and use the beeswax in our candles and beauty products.
L IV E ST OC K T HE DI L E MMAS O F L I V E STO CK FARMING
by Jake Hancock It has been a pretty good and relatively quiet summer at Trill. Thanks to a kind season we have made a lot of silage, although no hay this year as we didnâ€™t get enough time before the rain to take it dry, so it was sadly wrapped in plastic at the last minute, which was disappointing. The calves are doing well and will still be suckling and grazing with their mums until November. The sheep have grown very quickly this year, with half of them being fat on the day they were weaned at the end of July. This is a much higher proportion than we were expecting and particularly impressive given that we never feed any of the sheep anything other than grass.
Following roles at the Soil Association and National Trust, Jake took on the tenancy of Trill Farm in 2010, where he runs 40 Devon and Angus suckler cows, and about 160 Exlana and crossbred breeding ewes.
Having spent the last month very busy sorting out lambs and sheep in preparation for the next breeding season, I am currently looking forward to getting busy with cattle weaning, TB testing and pregnancy diagnosis. With five holdings with cattle and two breeding herds in my care, this keeps us pretty busy during the Autumn. We vaccinated the badgers on one of my holdings in Dorset this year and hope to do the same in 2015 at Trill, in an attempt to keep Defra away from both the cows and the badgers. It will be very interesting to see whether this has any impact on our situation going forward.
Sandie feeding the gotland lambs. WE use the gotland wool to make our blankets.
honor, one of our wwoofers, busy packing up the hay to use as packing material
Hedgerows by Amanda Cook Foraging transitions with the seasons, not only with the kind of plants we pick - but the parts of plants that we pick. As the weather turns cooler, plants stop putting their energy into creating flowers, and instead produce their final fruits and concentrate energy into their roots for the winter ahead. Autumn foraging revolves around these berries and roots to enjoy now and preserve for winter. Amanda Cook is an award-winning certified holistic health coach specializing in natural health and beauty. She teaches women how to look and feel naturally radiant through whole foods, natural beauty and herbal remedies.
Foraging etiquetTE Only pick where plants are most abundant In dog walking areas, pick above â€˜dog heightâ€™ Pick away from major roads Always be 100% certain of the plant identification before picking
Who doesn’t recognize the bramble bush? Brambles or blackberries have a long history of being used to improve health. According to Mrs. Grieve, “creeping under a bramble bush was a charm against various disorders.” 17th century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommends blackberry for numerous conditions including to “stay the bloody flux.” These days, we use blackberry leaf and root for their astringent quality to tone and tighten the mouth, teeth and gums, loose bowels and piles, and even to relieve sore throat and feverish colds.
The common weed we love to hate, the dandelion really excels in the autumn. Dandelion roots are a popular traditional remedy worldwide as a diuretic and to support the liver. When you chop and roast dandelion root, it develops a rich flavor, similar to coffee. In fact, dandelion root has been a coffee substitute for centuries, and was even used as a coffee flavour enhancer before high-quality coffee was widely available.
Both the leaf and root are astringent. The root is more astringent, but the leaf is easier to collect. The berries are also a good source of fibre and vitamin C. Use blackberry vinegar cordial for a feverish cold.
I like to mix dandelion root with dried spices and create a warming chai tea, perfect for the cooler autumn temperatures.
Dandelion & Rooibos Well-Rooted Chai 1 tb. dandelion root, dried 2 tsp. loose-leaf rooibos tea (or black tea) 1 cinnamon stick 4 cardamom pods 1 star anise 4 black peppercorns 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 4 cups water To finish: Milk (organic whole, almond or coconut) + honey Method: Put all ingredients (except milk + honey) in a pan. Cover & simmer 20-30 minutes. Strain out the spices and reserve the liquid tea. Mix the tea with your choice of hot milk and add honey to taste. I like 2/3 tea, 1/3 milk – but mix it to your own strength. Enjoy! Store any extra tea in the fridge for 2-3 days maximum.
ROSEHIPS Gorgeously fat, red rosehips abound in the hedgerows this time of year - and it’s a shame to let them go to waste. Rosehips are filled with Vitamin C, and are a wonderful immune boost for the coming winter months. In fact, during World War II the public were encouraged to make rosehip syrup for children to supplement Vitamin C, given limited availability of citrus fruit. There are two challenges when working with rosehips: first, don’t prick your finger on the rose thorns, and second, don’t touch the itchy hairs inside the rosehips. You’ll want to cut the rosehips in half and scrape out the itchy hairs and seeds (while wearing gloves!) Alternatively, if you’re making an infused vinegar or syrup, you can strain the finished product through fine muslin to catch any seeds and hairs. You’ve probably also heard of Rosehip Oil as a miracle ingredient in beauty products. Rosehip oil is well known for its skin healing and anti-aging properties. The best rosehip oil is organic and cold-pressed, which you can’t create at home. However, you could make a macerated rosehip oil by heating rosehips and almond oil in a bain-marie for 30 minutes, straining, and repeating with fresh rosehips.
Ministry of Food Rosehip Syrup Directions given by the Ministry of Food (MoF) during the war for 2 pounds (900g) of hips. Method: Boil 3 pints (1.7 litres) of boiling water. Mince hips in a coarse mincer (food processor) and put immediately into the boiling water. Bring to boil and then place aside for 15 minutes. Pour into a jelly bag and allow to drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through. Return the residue to the saucepan, add 11/2 pints (852ml) of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Pour back into the jelly bag and allow to drip. To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed put back the first half cupful of liquid and allow to drip through again. Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about 11/2 pints (852ml), then add 11/4 (560g) of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes. Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once.
Hints: It is advisable to use small bottles as the syrup will not keep for more than a week or two once the bottle is opened. Store in a dark cupboard. The resulting syrup can be used as a flavouring for milk puddings, ice-cream or almost any sweet, or diluted as a drink. Source: The Hedgerow Harvest, MoF, 1943
Autumn by Julian Barnard
The last days of summer: A ragged-winged butterfly Inspects the last few flowers. On the mountain colours Brown. Green energy Returns to dark earth. Not now rhyme and rhythm Not now joy and song The growing days are over The seed to come. Actually I love autumn. It carries that tremulous note of sadness with the sense of completion, of maturity and a kind of certainty that we know what will follow. All summer long we have waited to see what will happen and now we know that expectation is over. We begin to count the harvest: how many apples, how many bales of hay, how many of the next generation? I am a beekeeper and by this time of year I have taken off the honey crop and prepared the bee hives for winter. What they have is the store to last them through the cold, dark days when they cannot gather fresh nectar and pollen. Five or six months until they reach spring.
There is an interesting process that takes place in plants, which leads to the autumn leaves turning brown and gold. And it all has to do with the preservation of sugars, just like bees preserving honey. There is a chemical messenger called anthocyanin which cuts off the supply of sugar to and from the leaves. It is like closing a door. And that is what changes the leaves from green. While they are green they still photosynthesise and create energy for growth. Anthocyanin is the agent of change. It is what turns berries from green to red, it is the agent of ripeness. The most important part of this cycle of change is the production of seeds: they are the future. We welcome that as food. But for the plants it is a message to the next year, to spring and regeneration.
Julian Barnard is the founder of Healing Herbs, producing Bach flower essences. Also an established author and teacher, he regularly stays in this part of Devon and visits Trill Farm.
T rill PEOP LE
We set out of Trill, hitched a ride with a stranger and ended up at the beach. The coastline was quieter than it’s ever been. We picked up some scallops from the local fishmonger and headed towards the fields. Our wet boots dried as we lit the fire the smoke began to fill the air, the scallops cooked away in fresh garlic, shallots, parsley and tomatoes we picked from Ash’s Garden. With the fire burning against the stars and wine reducing in the pan we created one of the most amazing dishes I’ve tasted in my life. When I am asked why I keep coming back to Trill every summer my honest answer is food, and the community built around it here. It is with no doubt the most amazing context to work with and for a community dedicated to the one essential thing in our lives: food. You don’t need new clothes or a big house, you need to eat. And you need to share. Share your knowledge, share experiences, share skills. Because the more we work with each other the better we get at the things we do and want to achieve.
As autumn approaches it’s the time for one of my favourite jobs: collecting the seeds. I’m on my second year of working in the herb gardens. It’s lovely to see the flowers and herbs that have grown from the tiny seeds that I have collected then planted and nurtured. (The circle of life). I can’t resist grabbing a handful as I pass, and get home only to find the seeds in my pocket. I end up with lots of little pots on my windowsill awaiting their chance at another life.
THIS TRILL SEASONAL BOX WAS A GROUP EFFORT Zoe does the overall coordination Romy & Graham created the harvest bowl Daphne creates wonderful food in the Dairy kitchen Joe makes our fragrant soaps and beauty products Sandie helps all our projects come to fruition from the office Jane keeps the accounts immaculate and the rest of us in order Lou tackles processes and organic certification Tamsin brings our ideas to life, from the first creative seed to the final product Leo did the harvesting. He has wwoofed for five years on the trot.
Photos by Beki Rubenstein
Musbury, Devon, EX13 8TU email@example.com 01297 631113