News

Veg under the Spotlight: Broad Beans

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This week we started harvesting our broad beans. It’s always exciting to see these coming through as it is a true sign that summer has arrived and that the winter roots are behind us…for now! These broad beans are growing in our polytunnel, which means a smaller crop than last year when we had a massive bounty due to them growing in the fields.


Broad beans are quite versatile and can be used in soups – lovely in a courgette, lemon and thyme soup. They can also be used steamed, in salads, stir-fries and curries and also in dips. They are the main ingredient in ful medammes, considered the national dish of Egypt. Dried, they are used in falafel too. A recipe for macco di fave can be found on our recipes page.

The flowers of broad beans are beautiful and are perfectly edible. They make an eye-catching addition to any salad or as a topper on a zesty lemon and broad beans pasta.

Cultural and historical significance

The broad bean has a long tradition going back at least 8000 years and is one of the oldest plants in cultivation. In ancient Greece they were used in voting – white ones for yes, black one for no. This is where the term bean counter originates.


The Pythagorians were forbidden from eating, mentioning or even looking at them. In fact, it was reported that Pythagoras once persuaded a bull not to eat them! Perhaps this was because Pythagoras believed that they came from the same source as humans and because they looked like a foetus, or because they caused flatulence! Either way, both are hilarious.

In European folklore it is claimed that planting broad beans on Good Friday or during the night brings good luck but since there are 365 nights in a year, the chances of good luck at least once must be pretty high.

Nutrition

Broad beans are very high in protein, coming in at 26g per 100g. They are also very high in folate, meeting your entire recommended daily intake. They are also high in minerals such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron – between 50% to around 80% of the recommended amount. For best iron absorption, you should take them with vitamin C. Broad beans and lemon go very well together.


Wildlife


While in the tunnel I spotted this little fellow. I don’t know what type of butterfly it is, but my app tells me it’s an orange-tip butterfly. Clearly it has no orange tips, but it does resemble it in all other ways and is likely to be part of the whites, yellows and sulphurs family. It’s really great to see the various wildlife on the farm.

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Veg under the Spotlight: Fennel

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Our fennel is coming along quite nicely in the small tunnel. Some of the bulbs are a bit on the small side but they should grow to a decent size over the coming week, ready to go into the boxes next week.




Fennel loves a warm, sunny, and moist environment so the tunnel is a perfect place for it to grow. It requires frequent watering, especially in the heat we’ve been experiencing recently.
 

I managed to get a taste of the fronds and they are delicious. They have a lovely cool-fresh liquorice/aniseed flavour but with a slight lemony taste on first bite. I certainly wouldn’t let them go to waste! They’d go perfectly with a zesty orange salad. I’ve included a recipe on our recipes page.

A bit about fennel

Fennel is a perennial plant and is part of the carrot family. It produces a bulb, flowers, and fruits, which are mistakenly referred to as seeds. Did you know it is one of the main ingredients in absinthe?


The bulb, fronds and ‘seeds’ are all used in cooking. The bulb is used in salads, stews, stir-fries and can also be sautéed or grilled. The fronds are a great addition to a salad, and the seeds are used in Indian cookery among other things. The seeds are also jam-packed with nutrients, as shown in the table below.

Cultural and historical significance

In doing some research on this piece of veg, I learned that fennel means ‘marathon’ in Greek and that the place name, Marathon, literally means ‘plain of fennel’ as it grew all around the area. Marathon is famed for its battle in 490BC and more famously for the fact that the greatest runner in Athens ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of Greek victory over Persia, hence the name of the running event. Upon reaching Athens and delivering the news, Pheidippides collapsed and died.


The Romans, Chinese and Hindus used fennel as an antidote to poison from mushrooms and snake bites. It was also used to treat bites from ‘mad dogs’ – likely to be rabies.

In the poem ‘The Goble of Life’, Longfellow recounts the virtues of fennel and its purported strengthening of eyesight, much like its relative the carrot.

Above the lower plants it towers,
The Fennel with its yellow flowers;
And in an earlier age than ours
Was gifted with the wondrous powers
Lost vision to restore.

 


Nutrition

Fennel is a good source of potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. When it comes to vitamins, fennel is highest in vitamin C and folate. It also contains essential minerals like manganese, chromium, copper, iron, and zinc. The seeds are very high in calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium, exceeding the daily value in these minerals.

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News for week beginning 24th May (week 21)

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Local produce has been scarce for the past few weeks but we’re now harvesting spinach and radish. Our lovely mixed salad leaves had to be cut back as they’d been attached by flea beetles. However, they seem to be doing quite well now and we’ve begun adding them to boxes; they are a great addition and a sign that summer is not far off!

We are still very busy with weeding and planting. Growing is going well so far with fennel and cabbages, beans and celery all coming along well. It’s still too early to say how the outdoor crops will fare with the weather being so changeable, but we should know soon. We just have to keep our fingers and toes crossed!

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News for week begining 12 April (Week 15)

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Harvesting

The carrot harvest from Bridgefoot is almost at an end, as is the swede. Both crops have been plentiful this year. The carrots have been particularly tasty. We’re now harvesting parsnips. They are slightly disappointing in terms of size, but we couldn’t leave them in the ground any longer. Our beetroot harvest has also been disappointing and we’ve had to get most from our supplier in Stonehaven. The leeks have been plentiful this year and they’re still coming out in large quantities. We are also getting kale, chard and radishes locally, which means the price is kept down for those items.

Growing

With the arrival of spring, farms around the country are a hive of activity and Bridgefoot is no different. We have been very busy with weeding and planting. We’ve just transplanted Chinese and pointed cabbages along with broad beans and French beans. Radish, spinach, fennel and celery have been sown and are currently in the propagation tunnel, to be transplanted into the other tunnels later. Today, Matthew, Frieda and Ron are sowing seed potatoes.

Herbs

We are now harvesting chives and thyme, which have both just started going into boxes. The herbs are a lovely addition to the box and we’ve just planted rosemary. We hope to have oregano available too. We’ve also lots of chives in transplant trays in the propagation tunnel.

Prices

We are now at that time of year when very little local produce is available, and we have to supplement greatly with produce from outside the UK. This has been a double-edged sword this year as we’ve been experiencing a high shortage of items, which has pushed prices up. Brexit has just added another layer of complexity with the sheer volume of paperwork making things much more difficult for importers. The Hungry Gap is always challenging for farmers, and for small box schemes as ourselves in Scotland, it has now become a bit more of a challenge. The challenge for the office is trying to ensure people are getting enough in their boxes, which takes a fair degree of skill and creativity! However, with the summer soon approaching, this will become less stressful as our own produce starts to take off, so we just have to ride the storm for now.

Staff

One of our packers, Graeme, shall be leaving us next week as he returns to his work in graphic design now that the lockdown is almost at an end. We’d like to thank Graeme for all his hard work in the past 6 months. Graeme will continue to do some ad hoc work from a graphic design view, so we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.

Frieda, who’s been with us for some time and who helps with packing on a Thursday, will now step into Graeme’s shoes, while continuing to do work in the fields.

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Christmas closure

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As we reach the end of they year we want to say a huge thank you to all our customers, old and new, for being with us during this time. We hope any interruptions during the past year went largely unnoticed as we tried to ensure a continuous supply. We are incredibly grateful that you put your trust in us. We are now taking a much needed break for Christmas and we will re-open Monday 11th January. We hope to see you back in 2021 and we look forward to delivering lovely, fresh fruit and veg once again.

From Heather, Matthew, Sergio, Tom, Iain, Graeme, Frieda and Kiara, we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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Huge increase in organic sales

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Fantastic news as organic sales have increased by 6.1% for May 2019 to May 2020, with sales up a whopping 18.7% during lockdown up to the end of May! This is to be expected given that the majority of the country has been staying at home and/or self-isolating. We welcome the news that people are revising how they shop with a sharper focus on sustainability, access and personal health. While we welcome such positive news, we must also be cautious about how this will translate in the long-term once everything returns to normal. With less time to spend on cooking once people return to work properly, this is likely to impact upon sales. There is also the economic impact to be considered and we are obviously concerned that there will be further job losses, which will mean people having to choose between more expensive organic produce and cheaper pesticide-laden food. It's not something any of us wish for and we firmly believe that it's a travesty that people have to make such a choice - health v budget. We are lucky to have been the beneficiaries of the increase in people opting for organic produce and it is wonderful to see people enjoying not only the improved flavour but also the variety of veg in their boxes, as well as the surprise. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, although we've not been without our challenges during what has been a particularly tough period. Costs have been substantially higher and shortages still continue on a weekly basis, but we've been able to weather it for the most part and customers have been greatly supportive through it all. What we can do as a business is to do our best to ensure good quality, organic produce and a personal service and let it speak for itself.



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Open for orders

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As the lockdown is starting to ease we are now taking on new orders.

Please note that we are taking longer than usual to reply as demand is still very high and the volume of emails means that we can't get to everyone within the specified time of 24-48 hours. However, please be assured that someone will be in touch within 7 days.


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New Orders On Hold

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Latest: Coronavirus


We received news today that there have been issues with getting some items in from Europe, which has affects new orders.

New order placed temporarily on hold:


We are sorry to announce that we have temporarily suspended taking on any new orders. We have sent,  and will continue to send, out an email explaining that we cannot take any orders for the moment. Customers will be placed on a waiting list and will be contacted when a space becomes available.  This will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Existing customers:


Customers will still receive their boxes as normal unless we have problems with stock; this includes those who have confirmed they wish to receive a box. However, we can no longer accept requests from existing customers to increase box sizes

We understand that people wish to send a box to family members and loved ones, and we would dearly love to be able to help everyone, but we are a small farm and, at this time of year, we are dependent upon European produce to supplement our boxes. There is a great deal of uncertainty while we wait to hear from governments on the way forward. We do hope that we will have a clearer idea in the next week or two.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Wishing you all good health.

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Coronavirus: Update

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All signs so far is that deliveries will proceed as normal and I believe there should be no issues with produce. We have a large volume of phone calls and emails and it's only been been possible to reply to some of the mail today. We're still trying to get through yesterday's. So please bear with us. The office is closed tomorrow but I'll be answering as many emails as I can from home. Please understand there will likely be delays of a few days in responding to some emails. These are uncertain and unprecedented times for many of us, so your continued patience is appreciated.

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