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Summer 2015.
This is the first of our seasonal newsletters with some updates from around the farm and our box scheme. We hope you will enjoy it.
It has been an amazingly mixed season, weather and challenges wise!  The Spring was late heating up.  We had to keep the glasshouses and poly-tunnels closed over night for longer to protect the young seedlings. 
The Aubergines have been fabulous.  But the Pepper plants had to fight off a plague of aphids and have only just recently begun to fruit, which in the last week has started to colour up.  It was touch and go at one point.
We've not had a problem with blight in the Tomatoes, or the more common Botrytis, so far this year, thanks to the mostly dry weather.
The 5 inches of rain in as many days recently - we consult our rain gauge regularly - meant the ground was sodden, and the new season Kale looked in danger of drowning as its lower leaves turned yellow.  Thankfully the last few days of sun have dried up the ground sufficiently.  But we are speedily trying to finish off the field drainage so that the water gets taken away to the pond and doesn't lie at one end of the bed.
The bright hues of the Squashes are now seeing the light as the leaves die back, and we're wondering just how broad our Leeks can grow.  (The same thing happened last year with the first crop, until the relentless winter rain that made the already heavy soil even heavier and restricted their growth.  So later season Leeks were pretty skinny.  Happily they are looking much better already, probably thanks to slightly earlier planting.)
We've made use of the dry weather to make headway with the erection of another Glasshouse.  We were offered it free on the understanding that we took it down ourselves.  As you can imagine it is a long term project - a massive Meccano puzzle.
We organised several opportunities for people to visit the nursery this Summer and plan to do more next year.  Not only have people told us they enjoyed the visits, be they farm walks or withy workshops, and gained a clearer insight into what is involved in the production of the vegetables in their boxes, but it is great for us to see the nursery through fresh eyes and share in (particularly) the children's enthusiasm.
Freya who has been working with us over the summer gives us an insight into her work around the farm.

What were you doing before you worked here?

I was working as a store manager of a cashmere shop. 
Despite the free clothes, lovely staff and good wage, I felt something was missing. It took me a long time to figure out what! I finally realised how much more important it is to be proud of and love the job you are doing, than the money you are doing it for. 

What attracted you about working on a vegetable nursery?

I knew I wanted to work outdoors either gardening or on a farm, and was drawn to the idea of learning how to grow as I had no previous experience and was really interested in the organic side as well.One of my life ambitions is to have the knowledge to be self sufficient so this tied in perfectly. 

Was it as you expected? (Or What has made the biggest impression on you?)

Not at all! I expected a fairly easy job physically, potting around, planting a few plants, maybe a bit of tending and watering..
I can easily say it has been the hardest exercise I have done in my life, and have never been fitter. I didn't understand why we didn't use trowels or secateurs etc but very quickly discovered because there isn't time! I have been blown away by the hard work and enthusiasm the small team put into the business, and it's motivating to think about when you are faced with planting 2000 plants by hand in the boiling heat with soggy soil!

What is the hardest task you have had to do?

Personally it's the heat that makes any job here hard; sowing seeds while standing stationary in the glasshouse can be tough in baking sunshine.But having done no physical labour previously, I struggled most with any upper-body jobs such as hoeing, pitch forking and digging. Also before working at the nursery I had a crushing phobia of spiders and most creepy crawlies, I have faced my fears and now can even fall asleep with spiders dangling over my bed! I can't say that facing it was easy... But definitely worth it.

What is the best moment of the day?

I love coming back after a few days off and seeing the progress the crops have made, (although it's always a little disheartening to see the weeds have grown even faster). I had no idea how quickly things grow! Seeing plants flourish from your care is really rewarding, especially as no chemicals have been used to get it there, just all natural methods.Usually my days are made by finding new unusual and creatures or plants, listening to the birds and bees and cows mooing, and being able to appreciate the beautiful Sussex countryside all day long (even the rain when it patters on the roofs). 

Do you have a favourite tool?  And if so why?

Most of our hand tools are physically hard work to use so wouldn't be my favourites...but we do use really interesting old machinery reconditioned by Adrian and Harry; most of the time you forget the physical side as its so enjoyable and a real privilege to use! 
My favourite is probably the steerage hoe; a huge metal 7 spiked tractor mounted hoe with a little seat balanced on top and a huge rusty steering bar attached to it. When we're using it I feel like we're back in the 1950's. 

What have you gained from working here?  

I feel the best I have in my life; I have more energy and always sleep well after a day's work. I'm fitter, stronger and healthier. I feel better in myself and generally happier. I come home after work and feel proud of what I have done for so many reasons. 
I also didn't realise how much I have learnt; everything from how to grow vegetables to the reasons why we farm in a certain way. I have gained invaluable experience about organic growing and learnt things I don't think I could have learned through any other manner.

Has it changed your relationship to vegetables?!  And if so, how?

It sounds strange but only recently have I been able to appreciate home grown food. I have always been a very fussy eater and fruit and veg were what I struggled with most. Now I understand the work involved and the magic in growing food, over my time here I have opened my mind and my tastebuds to everything the farm offers. I can appreciate the tastes and smells and textures in a totally new way. I'm not going to say I necessarily liked all of them! Just my whole mindset towards grown food has been altered for the better.
Anything else?

I still can't believe that all my life I had never known that the little green clustered buds on top of broccoli stalks, are unopened flowers. After mentioning this to a few people I was even more shocked to find I wasn't alone!
It's Organic September!

This year the Soil Association needs you to join their "Small Changes, Big Difference" campaign. This September make a small change to your everyday shopping and make a big difference.

The buying decisions we all make are a simple but powerful form of direct action and small changes really can make a big difference. Swapping to organic food has huge benefits for people, animal welfare and the environment.

For more information on how to get involved visit the Soil association website here where you can download a free guide.
New refer a friend offer.

To celebrate Organic September we are now trying out a new Refer a Friend offer. If you are a current customer of ours and recommend us to a friend we will give you £10 credit to spend with us and your friend who signs up will get their 4th box free.

How it will work:

Your friend will place an order through our website choosing the veg box they would like.

In the message box at the bottom they write 'Refer a friend' and then your Surname and Customer ID (if you know it). 

We will email them to confirm their order and delivery day and set up an order. Simple! 
Silo comes to Barcombe Nurseries.

The UK's first zero waste restaurant, the critically acclaimed Silo in Brighton (for more information about their approach to delicious menus, see will be teaming up with us to serve a five course seasonal tasting menu at the nursery, seated amongst the crops!

£45 a person which includes a welcome drink.  Book by emailing or phoning us on 01273 400 011 or through the contact page on our website.

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