Conservation Agriculture at Castle Fruit Farm

Michael Bentley - photo by Chrissy Bentley
Michael Bentley – photo by Chrissy Bentley

Michael Bentley has long been involved in Farmers Overseas Action Group which is a charity for agricultural development and other projects in Uganda. This interest was sparked by 2 years in India as a young graduate volunteer with the Quakers. Trained as a soil and water engineer his particular passion is sustainable farming practices in the tropics which increase yields by paying careful attention to water management and soil structure, one of the fundamentals of what is now known as Conservation Agriculture or Climate Smart Agriculture. Read More »

Blossomtime with The Big Apple – Sunday 30th April and Monday 1st May 2017

BigAppleLogoTogether with its surrounding parishes, Putley in Herefordshire is famous for its orchards: the patchwork of blossom starts with pears and plums, is joined by dessert and culinary apples and runs through to cider fruit. By perfect coincidence, just as the blossom breaks, the cider from the previous season’s harvest is ready to drink. So the centrepiece of Blossomtime is a cider tasting in Putley Village Hall, where up to a hundred ciders and perries are available to taste and local makers will be ready to sell their new season’s produce. Visitors can walk through the orchards, taste the ciders, enjoy a home-made lunch or tea – and discover for themselves why orchards are special places and apples matter to us all. Read More »

April Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Cake

eggsbutterLamb and lemon recipes are for some reason both associated with the Easter period.  I feel that I have supplied you with a lot of savoury recipes in the past and so am giving you a dessert / cake recipe which includes lemons.  Please buy the unwaxed ones if possible, or if you do get the waxed ones make sure you scrub the skins well as they have been sprayed.

Two tips, one = you get more juice from fruit if you roll it gently first with the palm of your hand, it breaks down the internal fibres and does work I promise!  The Chef at Croydon Catering College taught me that one, or zap it briefly in the  microwave he said.  Read More »

The Great Ledbury Celebration – food, drink, music, poetry and heritage

Old Granary Pierogis - Ledbury Celebration 2016
Old Granary Pierogis – Ledbury Celebration 2016

Sunday 9th July 2017 – a date for your diary

Our own annual Ledbury food and drink festival on the last day of the Ledbury Poetry Festival becomes part of the “Great Ledbury Celebration” this year and moves to Ledbury’s historic High Street market place to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the iconic Market House in a birthday treat of food, drink, music, poetry and heritage.

Arrangements for the event are bringing together organisations across Ledbury to put together a very special day, including Ledbury Town Council, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Ledbury Food Group, the Friends of the Master’s House, the Youth Council, the Ledbury Fringe, local businesses, traders and performers. Read More »

Ledbury’s Country Market is on the move

LedburyCountryMarketsFrom Friday 7th April, Ledbury Country Market will be at its new home – the Burgage Hall, Church Lane, Ledbury, open between the same times as now 8.30pm to 1pm. The last market at St Katherine’s Hall was on 31st March.

The same friendly faces will be there to greet you with their very locally produced, locally grown and hand crafted produce including free range eggs, home grown fruit, vegetables and plants in their season, as well as a large choice of baked goods – cakes, biscuits, puddings, and savouries. Read More »

Who is going to harvest our fruit this year?

Fruit picker at Castle Fruit Farm
Fruit picker at Castle Fruit Farm by Pat Strauss

Buds are breaking on the Valor plum trees and hurrah, the blackthorn is in full blossom so the pollinators can get to work. These are our free workers so we try to make sure pollen is available early on by planting goat willow and keeping some of the hedges uncut for their early blossom. More on the importance of biodiversity later as what is more pressing is organising our 2017 harvest workers. Like all farmers we rely on seasonal labour to harvest our crops. In our case this means a group of Bulgarians who come every year for 3-5 months. Read More »