Tag: rural friends
Foraging conjures up images of roaming through countryside picking blackberries and elderflower to make sugary treats, so I must admit I was curious when The Caravan Club invited me (MM’s Heather) to Abbey Wood Caravan Club Site in South East London to attend a foraging event. It all made sense though when I got there and found out that the Abbey Wood site (as the name suggests) is surrounded by beautiful woodland.
When everyone had arrived at the caravan site, Research Herbalist Monica Wilde who runs Napiers (one of the oldest natural healthcare and herbal medicine companies in Britain) gave us an introduction to the day ahead and explained why spring is the best time of year for foraging. › Continue reading
Today is Summer Solstice and we thought this would be a great opportunity to celebrate some of our favourite sunset pictures posted by members.
Want to find out where they were taken? Click on each image to be taken to the person’s profile and find out more!
We know that this is a rubbish time of year for some people but there is no need to succumb to January Blues…you just need to give yourself something to look forward to!
Ask someone out on a date
Don’t sit back waiting for people to contact you; take the bull by the horns yourself and you might just make someone’s day. You don’t necessarily need to have exchanged messages with someone for weeks before arranging a date…as long as you follow some simple common-sense safety guidelines*, there is no reason why you can’t throw caution to the wind and just arrange to meet up and see how you get on in person.
*Always arrange to meet in a public place, make your own travel arrangements, take a phone and let at least one person know what your plans are.
Make some new country friends
Muddy Matches is not just about dating, it is also a great way to meet new country friends in your area. Having like-minded country friends living locally to you is a fantastic way to broaden your social network. If you haven’t met the one yet you will find that having a partner in crime or two to do things with is the next best thing, so why not do a search for people looking for ‘friendship’ in your area as well as dating.
Book a holiday
Take your mind off the weather and the fact that you are back at work by planning your next holiday. If you like and active holiday and would enjoy meeting some like-minded country friends, why not come along on our ski trip to Tignes in March? We’ve got a great group of people booked already but still have a couple of spaces available if you would like to join us. For more information click here or ring Katie on 01933 311500.
For our last business visit, we decided to keep it local and popped in to see Duncan Farrington, who produces Mellow Yellow cold pressed rapeseed oil on the family farm near Hargrave, Northamptonshire.
Mellow Yellow rapeseed oil and the new Farrington salad dressings
Duncan became interested in oilseed rape back in the 90s when he was looking into biodiesel production as part of his university degree but when, on a visit to Germany, he met some farmers who were pressing their own oil for human consumption he began to look into the nutritional benefits and culinary properties of cold pressed rapeseed oil and was pleasantly surprised.
With less than half the saturated fat and ten times more Omega 3 than olive oil, as well as having the optimum balance of Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils and being a natural source of Vitamin E, it certainly has lots of health benefits. Being cold pressed (rather than hot pressed, which involves heating it up, adding a solvent to boost the extraction rate and then refining and deodorising it), the oil is gently squeezed out, meaning that it retains all its natural goodness. It has a subtle, nutty flavour and is perfect for anything from salad dressings to stir-fries, high temperature roasting and frying.
Despite all this, and the oil’s growing popularity abroad, a decade ago the UK quality oil market was dominated by olive oil imported from abroad and nobody seemed to be producing rapeseed oil. This, according to Duncan, is easily explained: oil seed rape just didn’t have a good image. Whilst olive oil has a romantic image, people tended to associate oilseed rape with the smell, hayfever and GM. Add in the word ‘rape’ and all its negative connotations, and it’s a marketing nightmare. With this is mind, and after taking some expert advice within the industry, Duncan decided that the UK market just wasn’t ready for it and so put his idea aside and returned to the family farm.
By 2000, however, it was clear that the farm wasn’t big enough to support two families, and Duncan knew that they would have to expand in some way. At the same time our attitude to food was beginning to change and a Suffolk farmer had decided to give culinary rapeseed oil a go, so Duncan decided it was the right time to invest in his idea.
Changes were made to the way the farm was managed and they embarked on what was really a completely new business for them; finding the right machinery (which was apparently very difficult), sourcing and designing bottles and labels, and ironing out problems in the oil production. The name was still an issue and, whilst rapeseed is mentioned on the bottle, they came up with the brand name Mellow Yellow (“yellow in colour, mellow in taste”) and it is clearly marketed as that. Investing money without really being sure that they’d ever sell a bottle, they launched the company in 2005 as around the second or third UK brand to make cold pressed rapeseed oil, but the first in Britain to grow, press and bottle it.
Duncan’s timing seems to have been just right and the business is now going from strength to strength. They have now been going nearly three years and he says it has got much bigger than he ever thought. On his first day of production, he and his mother managed to make about a hundred bottles, which he then packed into his car and took to local farm shops, butchers and delis. He now produces about 3,000 bottles a day and his oil is sold by more than 600 shops in the UK, including Harvey Nichols and Waitrose. Also, in an attempt to grow the business further, they have now started producing a honey mustard and a blackberry vinaigrette salad dressing (with Mellow Yellow as the base oil), both of which were given Great Taste Awards by the Guild of Fine Foods.
We’ve tasted the oil and the dressings, and there is no denying that they’re delicious. Could olive oil be about to lose its stranglehold on the UK culinary oil market? Watch this space!
Farrington Oils Ltd
Tel: 01933 622809
Fax: 01933 461003
You may remember that right at the beginning of our Marathon (Week 2 to be precise) we visited Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard in East Sussex. While we there we spoke to the owner, Roy Cook, about our trip and he mentioned an artist called Georgina Barney who had zigzagged her way around Great Britain working on farms and creating pieces of art.
Intrigued, we got in touch and arranged to meet up with her in the last week of our tour to hear about her project. A contemporary artist based in Leicestershire, Georgina spent a lot of time on her aunt and uncle’s farm in Powys, mid-Wales, and began to see a connection between art and farming. If you look at the stereotypes of both an artist and a farmer, they seem to be worlds apart, but the act of creating something links the two and both farming and art demand independence, entrepreneurship and self-motivation.
With this is mind, earlier this year she spent eight months travelling around British farms and land-based projects in a journey funded by the Arts Council England and supported by Farming and Countryside Education (FACE), trying to draw inspiration from working in different rural working environments and documenting it all in a blog. You can read all about her experiences on her website, Great British Farming.
Great British Farming
She spent up to two weeks on a variety of farms in Scotland, England and Wales, ranging from a croft on the remote island of Eigg to a city farm in Sheffield. At the end of each visit, she sought to conclude it by making some kind of object, which she photographed and made into a postcard. These postcards were then displayed in a series of exhibitions on her return in the autumn. One of our favourites was this one, based on her time with a Stilton cheese producer in Leicestershire:
Mid-Land Cheese: front
Mid-Land Cheese: back
Now she has finished her tour, she has is concentrating her efforts on communicating across the rural/urban divide and getting other artists on to farms across the East Midlands. The day we met, she took us to Woodlands Organic Farm in Lincolnshire, where she was interested in meeting the owner, Andrew Dennis. An Arts Council England grant enabled Andrew to invite a writer and poet called Clare Best, from Sussex, to stay on his farm and be a ‘Writer in Residence’. Every few weeks she would visit the farm and organise community projects (such as farm visits and poetry workshops for local schoolchildren) and write poems based on her experiences of the work being done at woodlands. What’s interesting is that every month at least one of her poems would be popped in to the 2000 fruit and veg boxes that the farm sends out, which we thought was an innovative way to link art, farming and the community. To read some of Clare and the schoolchildren’s poems, click here.