Author Archives: arthursorganics

News from Hughes

Good morning
Taking stock of the glasshouse today it is showing signs of plenty. Tomatoes are well formed and a small amount of Cherries have already been sampled. Aubergines are emerging with deep, rich purple skin. Both will soon be ready soon.
Mini Cucumbers have have fared well but Peppers are further behind having needed much “defruiting” to help them recover from the earlier aphid infestation.
Early Beans are cropping well but the second planting is less substantial after suffering stress in the initial heatwave and then from the subsequent cold as it disappeared. They are recovering now and should start yielding in the next few weeks.
In this season of extreme weather there have been several problems. We have had temperatures in excess of 40c on numerous occasions and this is always challenging.
But the heatwave that prompted the melon aphid outbreak that killed the Early Courgettes has also aided the massive Ladybird population that has taken over of pest control with astonishing efficiency. An Aphid is hard to find at the moment, let’s hope it stays that way. At this time of the year Red Spider becomes the main concern and we may need some help with that with some more specialist predators.
Mid July is the time everything really starts to bear fruit. Generally the crops look promising and we look forward with hopeful anticipation.
Best wishes
Grahame and Lizzie Hughes

Courgette & lemon risotto

Ingredients
50g butter    courgette-lemon-risotto
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
180g risotto rice
1 vegetable stock cube
zest and juice 1 lemon
2 lemon thyme sprigs
250g courgette, diced
50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated
2 tbsp crème fraîche
Method
Melt the butter in a deep frying pan. Add the onion and fry gently until softened for about 8 mins, then add the garlic and stir for 1 min. Stir in the rice to coat it in the buttery onions and garlic for 1-2 mins.
Dissolve the stock cube in 1 litre of boiling water, then add a ladle of the stock to the rice, along with the lemon juice and thyme. Bubble over a medium heat, stirring constantly. When almost all the liquid has been absorbed, add another ladle of stock and keep stirring. Tip in the courgette and keep adding the stock, stirring every now and then until the rice is just tender and creamy.
To serve, stir in some seasoning, the lemon zest, Parmesan and crème fraîche.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, August 2016

The Next Government Must Prioritise Soil

*Soil Association website, 28th April 2017.

soil-95-stat-no-logoIn the run-up to the general election, we’re urging all parties to commit to protecting and restoring soil health in their manifestos – as part of a new vision for agriculture that promotes a holistic landscape approach to farming and transitions to a more environmentally sustainable and resilient food and farming system.

Healthy soils are essential for food security, climate change and public health. Yet, soils have been neglected and left to deteriorate.  Almost a third of the world’s arable soils have been lost to erosion and pollution over the last 40 years, and it will take hundreds or thousands of years for these degraded soils to recover naturally.  In the UK, we lose an estimated 2.2 million tonnes of topsoil each year, costing around £45 million per year, of which £9 million is in lost production and reduced yields.

It’s essential that the new Government acts to stop the loss of UK soils.

A key measure of soil health is levels of soil organic matter (SOM), which is crucial for long-term yields, food quality, extreme weather resilience, and as a vital store of soil carbon. Increasing the organic content of British agricultural soils would be game-changing. By increasing the SOM level in degraded UK soils by 20% over the next 20 years, UK soils would provide better defence against flooding by reducing run-off and would dramatically increase the yield and quality of food produced.

The new Government should provide soil stewardship payments to incentivise farmers to increase the organic matter in the soil and make improving soil health a requirement of all farm tenancies.

Increasing SOM also increases soil carbon levels. Healthy soils act as a carbon sink by drawing carbon down into the soil to store it. Improving soil health is therefore a critical way to tackle climate change. Recognizing the ability of soil to sequester carbon and its contribution to climate mitigation, the UK signed onto the French government’s the 4 per 1000 soil carbon initiative at the UN Climate Change Convention in Paris. This initiative aims to increase soil organic carbon by 0.4% each year.

The next Government should establish the regular monitoring and reporting of soil organic matter by farmers to form a national database to inform future soil health research and data collection.

Given that healthy soils boost productivity and resilience, farmers have an obvious incentive to increase SOM. However, often they rely on cheap and plentiful nitrogen fertiliser instead. Applying artificial fertiliser is often cheaper, at least in the short term, than building soil fertility. By using cover crops to fix nitrogen from the air and build organic matter in the soil, they would create a healthier soil ecosystem for their crops, increase soil biodiversity and reduce erosion.

Any agriculture policy proposed by the new Government must increase support for cover crops.

Improving the SOM and soil carbon levels in UK soils should be a priority for the incoming UK government. Not only would such an approach increase yields but it would also help mitigate the impacts of climate change by helping to sequester carbon and reduce emissions.

Soil protection is one of our top manifesto asks for all parties.  Until Tuesday 2 May, it’s still possible to email your current MP to let them know that soil health matters to you.  You can email your MP easily from here.  If you have your own ideas for food and farming priorities, please share them too.  Not all candidates for the general election have been selected yet but, if they have in your area, now is also a good time to contact them.

https://www.soilassociation.org/blogs/2017/april/the-next-government-must-prioritise-soil/

Cathi Pawson – Zaytoun. Soil Association Interview

hi-res-logoZaytoun is the UK social enterprise which launched Fairtrade organic olive oil from Palestine to British customers in 2009. Having started as a grassroots initiative to support Palestinian farmers who had lost overseas markets, back in 2004, the company has grown steadily to achieve sales of over £1 million, with an office in central London.

How did Zaytoun begin/get started?

The initiative for trading olive oil as a means for supporting Palestinian farmers came from the founders’ trips to Palestine in 2003. International borders had just reopened after the intifada, but in the meantime the export market for olive oil had been lost to Jordanian producers. The harvest of 2003 was a bumper one, and having tasted the beautiful oil I and my co-founders Heather, Atif and Sal determined to try and sell some of it in the UK. I was working for then MEP Caroline Lucas at the time, and to highlight her trip to Palestine we had been selling the olive oil at street stalls. I knew it created a talking point, and a tangible way for people in Britain to connect with, and support Palestinian farming communities. Good food is a universal connector of peoples, a reason to get together, a way of talking about each other’s lives that, in the case of Palestinian olive oil, wasn’t head-on about the confrontations and violence of the occupation.

As a company, we owe much of our success to a vigorous network of distributors and supporters around the country, who are passionate about good food, Fairtrade and supporting Palestinian family farmers through trade.  From the very beginning people have volunteered to hold stalls, visit Palestine with us, offer talks and even invest in our company. We remain a very ‘human-scale’ company – relatively small, though we hope our impact is large, and still very much connected to our customers as well as to the farmer cooperatives who have grown with us through the years.

Why organic?

Supporting those farmers to achieve organic certification for their olive oil was an easy choice to make, as they also prepared for Fairtrade certification and brought traceability and best practice into their operations. Most small farmers in Palestine already grow organically, relying on low-tech local solutions to manage pests and boost the productivity of their crops as the import of chemicals is banned under the occupation. In this way, skills and traditions that have been passed down for generations in Palestinian families are now increasingly important as their overseas customers are choosing high-quality, organically grown products. In a land where access to clean water and fertile land is made scarce, these resources become even more precious. Along with the farmers who grow our products, we see organic growing as a foundation for resilient livelihoods and environmental sustainability.

What role does the Soil Association play for you?

Working with the Soil Association has been very supportive, increasing the profile of our own organic products but also for the farmers who grow them, and for whom the certification process was entirely new when they began, several years ago.

What’s next for you and Zaytoun?

We are constantly innovating, looking for new products to add to our range so that we can support more farming communities and delight more customers. We are reaching out to new customers through the resurgence of interest in fine foods and cuisine from around the world. It is exciting to be increasingly working in partnership with other Fairtrade and organic brands as well as well-known chefs and food writers to bring the rich heritage of Palestinian food culture to more British customers.

Website www.zaytoun.org

Twitter https://twitter.com/Zaytoun_CIC

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ZaytounUK

Roast parsnips and jerusalem artichokes with cavolo nero and stilton

6 parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into 7cm-long and 2cm-wide wedges
3 red onions, peeled and cut into 3cm-wide wedgesottolenghi
60ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5g picked thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
700g jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into 3cm-wide wedges
220g cavolo nero, stalks removed and discarded (or saved for something else – they’re great parboiled, then put in a gratin), to leave 110g leaves, cut into 4cm-wide slices
80g stilton, roughly crumbled into 1cm pieces

For the dressing
115g pickled walnuts, roughly chopped, plus 3 tbsp pickling liquor
60g walnuts, roughly chopped
15g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Cavolo nero can vary hugely from bunch to bunch in terms of how much stalk to leaf you get. If yours has an enormous stalk, buy more to get the 110g leaves you’ll need for this. And if you start with more leaf to stalk, you’ll obviously need less to start off with.

Serves eight, as a side dish.
Method
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the parsnips and onions in a medium bowl with two tablespoons of oil, two garlic cloves, the thyme, half a teaspoon of salt and lots of pepper. Spread out on a large oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Put the artichokes on a separate lined tray, mixed with a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Roast both trays for 20 minutes, until the parsnips and onions are cooked and caramelised, and the artichokes are just cooked through, then tip both into a large bowl and keep warm.

Mix the dressing ingredients with a third of a teaspoon of salt and set aside until required.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add the cavolo nero and blanch for two minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and pat dry.

Put the final tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan on a high heat, then fry the remaining garlic clove until just starting to brown; about 30 seconds. Add the cavolo nero and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, and fry for four to five minutes, stirring often, until it starts to brown. Add to the veg bowl and, just before serving, gently mix in the dressing. Spread out on a large platter, sprinkle over the stilton and take to the table.

Recipe from ottolenghi.co.uk

Latest from the glasshouse

Good morning.
There is a little bit more of September about the air now.
The exceptionally hot spell seriously boosted Tomato ripening and also extended some extra late development of Aubergines, both very welcome. Tomatoes are picking high in the vines now and are slower ripening as the temperatures fall. They will be few after this week and Aubergines will be the same. Then it will be a concentrated planting time as we replace with Winter and Spring crops.
Outside Broccoli is abundant from the Breckland farm and Pointed Cabbage will follow at the end of this week.
In Lincolnshire the Potato harvest is nearing it’s end and we will resume Winter produce from there early next month with Beetroot ,Kales and Cauliflower as well as Potatoes.
That will mark a major shift in season.
Best wishes,
Grahame and Lizzie Hughes

Fresh News from Hughes Organics

Good morning
There is a little bit more of September about the air now.
The exceptionally hot spell seriously boosted Tomato ripening and also extended some extra late development of Aubergines, both very welcome. Tomatoes are picking high in the vines now and are slower ripening as the temperatures fall. They will be few after this week and Aubergines will be the same. Then it will be a concentrated planting time as we replace with Winter and Spring crops.
Outside Broccoli is abundant from the Breckland farm and Pointed Cabbage will follow at the end of this week.
In Lincolnshire the Potato harvest is nearing it’s end and we will resume Winter produce from there early next month with Beetroot ,Kales and Cauliflower as well as Potatoes.
That will mark a major shift in season.
Best wishes
Grahame and Lizzie Hughes

Latest news from our suppliers

Good morning
With the rather pleasant Autumn weather looking set to continue we should see our new plantings get away quickly. With Summer crops in rapid decline they will be welcome.
We just have remnants of Courgettes, Beans and Cucumber now; Aubergines and Peppers are rapidly depleting although Tomatoes are still abundant and will continue to enjoy the bright weather.
Chard is growing rapidly, also enjoying the warmth. It is taking the place of the Summer crops and will be followed by more Autumn leaves as time progresses.
Sowing and planting continue.
Best wishes
Grahame and Lizzie Hughes

Roasted Corn Fiesta Guacamole

Easy fiesta guacamole stuffed with roasted corn, flavourful spices, and a hint of lime!
Author: Tiffany
Recipe type: Appetizer/Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4-6

Prep time: 15 minroasted-corn-guacamole

Ingredients:
1 ear corn on the cob
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons cumin,divided
2-3 medium/large avocados
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 small tomato, diced
¼ cup diced onion
¼ cup coriander, roughly chopped
1½ teaspoons garlic puree
1 teaspoon chilli powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Preheat the grill. Brush the corn with butter, then sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon cumin. Grill about 5 minutes, turning throughout, until corn starts to char slightly. Remove from grill and use a sharp knife to cut off the kernels. Discard cob and set aside kernels.
Pit your avocados and place avocado flesh in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork until creamy but still has some texture. Add lime juice, coriander, garlic puree, chilli powder and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in tomatoes, onions, and corn. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Creme de la crumb

Latest from Hughes 22/08/16

Good morning
As some of the early summer crops have started to clear we have been able to get some Autumn Chard, Salads and Spinach going to take us into the next season. It will be back to leaves. In the meantime the fruiting crops of Tomatoes, Aubergine and Peppers are reaching their peak over the next couple of weeks. As ever Summer seems to have passed in a flash. In the Glasshouse the crops have run pretty well but the field crops are still challenging. Onions are likely to be scarce and roots still a slight unknown. Squash are reportedly small from Bedlams but we wait to hear of the crop at Wakelyn’s. Later planted Brassicas should have fared ok but delayed planting in poor conditions will be challenging to continuity. We will see how it all unfolds but few seasons have been as difficult as this.
Best wishes,
Grahame and Lizzie Hughes