Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Time at the Farm

Hello there!

Due to being a bit under the weather this week our blog post is a little late. But we wanted to remind you all that we are open on Tuesday 22 December (8am - 4pm) and on Christmas Eve (8am - 12.30pm) and then we will be closed until Wednesday 7 January 2015. So make sure you get in and stock up with lots of our lovely veggies asap!

If you are looking to try something different for your Christmas dinner, then why not give sprout tops a go? Tom Kerridge has been cooking them over on his BBC Christmas television programme alongside chestnuts as a cracking side dish. You can check out the recipe here. We have lots of lovely sprout tops available in the farm shop alongside sprout stalks and loose sprouts. If you are needing some more inspiration for cooking these little green gems, then please do check out our previous post here.

We also have freshly harvested potatoes for your roasting pan. If you haven't tried our Edzell Blues then you are in for a real treat. They have a violet-blue skin, white flesh and a floury texture. Best cooked in duck or goose fat, they don't need to be parboiled. Just pour boiling water over them, let them sit for about a minute, drain, then tip into your roasting pan. They make the perfect roast potato and you'll be giving your guests the best Christms dinner they will ever have!

And of course we have all your other favourite winter vegetables and fruits in the shop too as well as sacks of well seasoned, dry logs.

Thank you for all your support this past year. We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

All pictures via our Instagram feed.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

This week on the farm

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Hello there!

Thank you so much to everyone for supporting us on Small Business Saturday. We had so many happy customers visiting us to pick out their Christmas tree.  We still have lots of lovely trees available, so don't worry if you haven't already been to pick one out.

This week has also been busy on the farm. It's that time of year where we bring in the rhubarb roots, ready to begin the forcing process. It's a hard job but worth the pain in the back and legs when we get those first stalks of Timperley Early. We'll do a further post all about the forced rhubarb soon.

One of our nearby primary schools came for a tour of the farm as they are studying the history of rhubarb in the local area. The Year 4 kids had lots of great questions about vegetables and the bees, and left well informed about how and what we grow. They were also glad they wore their wellingtons!

Don't forget we have lots of lovely handmade wreaths and bunched holly for some extra festive cheer. Our Christmas order forms are available in the farm shop ready for us to put together a vegetable box for you.  And we have some great chutneys, pickles, jam, honey and balsamic vinegars for hampers.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Small Business Saturday

Good Morning! Did you know that it is Small Business Saturday today? A day to celebrate and support your local community - to encourage us all to buy from local sellers, independents and makers. We try to do this all year round as being a small business we know how important it is to have loyal customers.

So while you are in choosing your Christmas tree, why not stock up on some lovely jams and marmalades, all handmade by Vicky's Mum. There is the ever popular Raspberry, Peach and Amaretto (otherwise known as Heaven in a Jar!), Rhubarb and Ginger and the newest creation, Fig and Cherry Brandy. Plus many more. We also have a fresh supply of Vicky's own honey, Chilli Jam Man products and Wildon Grange balsamic vinegars. These will all make a wonderful addition to a hamper for Christmas. We also have a beautiful range of handmade and all natural wreaths available in the farm shop.

If you are planning on some extra Christmas shopping this weekend, why not have a look at Twitter for a list of other Leeds small businesses who are intent on bringing you something different - just check out the hashtag #SmallBizSatUK #leeds.

Have a happy weekend. Thanks for reading and your continued support. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

This week on the farm

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Hello. This hasn't been the best week for us. As many of you already know we have had a large number of our Christmas trees cut down and stolen. So there has been a lot of wine and chocolate consumed this week to cope with the stress (not during work hours of course!). Thank you for all your support on Twitter, Facebook and in person, we do appreciate it very much.

This week we wanted to introduce you to three members of staff that you may not be familiar with. Toby, Sean and Harry form our highly skilled landscape and maintenance team.You can find out more about each of them and the work they do by clicking on our Landscaping page. Although they are not often on the farm working, occasionally they are brought in to carry out some important jobs that Vicky and Jeni couldn't possibly do! This week they were carrying out some vital tree work down in the field and we had to take some photographs of them in action. It's impressive stuff and not a job for anyone who is afraid of heights! They are also available to carry out other gardening work and further details can be found on our Landscaping page.

We have no Farmers Market this Saturday so Vicky will be based in the shop this weekend. She looks forward to seeing you soon. Thanks for reading. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Christmas Tree Time!

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Hello! It's that time of the year again. It comes around way too fast!

Our Christmas tree field is now open and ready for you to come select the perfect tree for the festive season. We've got several different varieties and can advise on needle drop, scent and how to look after your tree to keep it looking it's best throughout the holiday.

Unfortunately this year we are unable to take reservations and we are advising you to come choose a tree on the day you want to take it home. We sadly have had a large number of trees stolen and we don't want to disappoint anyone with the loss of their chosen tree. So this season we are operating on a first come, first served basis.

Please do bear in mind if you are coming to choose a tree that it's a good idea to wear sensible shoes - ideally walking boots or wellies as it's a bit muddy in the field! It's also a good idea to think carefully about the size of tree you want for your home - how much space have you got and what height restrictions do you have?

In addition we will have an excellent selection of pre-cut trees available to takeaway and lots of lovely potted trees. Large or small, we'll find you the right tree for your space.

Don't forget to check our opening hours before you set off! You can find them here.  During the winter months on Sundays we are closing at 3pm.

We look forward to welcoming you down at the farm to pick your tree. You'll also get a warm reception from our three spaniels!

PS - we have a lot of small trees growing in the field that need more time to grow. Because of this we are unable to cut any tree under 5ft. We do have alternatives if you are looking for a smaller tree, again just ask one of our team for advice.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A week of two halves....

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Well it's been a hard old week down on the farm! It started off with lots of lovely days of sunshine and we were all out harvesting our potato crop wearing t-shirts. We were still at it Thursday afternoon when the weather took a turn for the worst and the heavens opened. So we were head to toe covered in mud! Friday it didn't stop raining at all,  but we had to keep working through the awful conditions and prepare for the farmers market at Headingley.  We were all absolutely soaked wet through and shattered by the end of the day.

So the blog post is a bit short this week. For now we've gathered together a collection of our recent Instagram images including a shot of our potato harvest. We've sacked up the fabulous Cara (great mash, chips and fantastic for jackets) and Desiree (red skinned, perfect for boiling, chips and makes the best dauphinoise) in a variety of sizes all available in the farm shop.

We'll be back next week hopefully a bit more refreshed! 

Friday, 31 October 2014

Autumn on the farm

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Hello there!

Hasn't it been a lovely warm and sunny Autumn so far? We've been busy as usual, lots of fresh vegetables to harvest, orders to deliver and farmers markets to prepare for. Tomorrow you can see us at Horsforth Farmers Market along with many of our other local producing friends. We'll  have lots of seasonal, homegrown vegetables including potatoes, kale, beetroot, sprouts, chard, parsnips and lots more. Come and say hello to Vicky and her mum Heather from 9am - 12.30pm.

The boys have been busy planting up all of next year's strawberry crop. We're growing lots of different varieties, some early summer and others to take us up to the end of the growing season. Hopefully we'll have a bumper harvest!

All of our pumpkins have sold for Halloween but we still have lots of lovely squashes to make soups, stews and curries with. You can check out our previous post on squashes and pumpkins if you are looking for some recipe ideas. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall also wrote some great squash and pumpkin recipes in his Guardian column which you can check out here.

One of our favourite vegetables is the spiky looking Romanesco Cauliflower. It's flavour is somewhere in between broccoli and cauliflower with a sweet nuttiness. Try it in cauliflower cheese dotting the cooked florets with crème fraîche mixed with Parmesan, then sprinkling more Parmesan and some breadcrumbs on top and baking till golden. It's absolutely delicious and rich in anti-oxidants, fibre and vitamin C. It's a mighty pretty looking vegetable too!

Thanks for visiting our blog and all your Facebook likes, Twitter comments and retweets, we really appreciate the support you give us. We love sharing our recipe ideas and we'd love to know what you do with our produce. So if you fancy sharing your cooking successes then please send them in to us!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Sprout Loving

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This weekend the clocks change and it's officially time to start eating all of those autumn and winter vegetables. We're harvesting our own parsnips, squash, swede, potatoes, savoy cabbages, jerusalem artichokes and best of all, brussel sprouts! We love them down on the farm.

For a lot of us they word sprouts remind us of mushy, overcooked green things that we were forced to eat as children and so many adults have grown up hating them because of this. But sprouts can be cooked many ways and are so much more versatile than you would think. They can be stir fried, roasted, steamed as well as boiled. They also make a terrific pesto, risotto, coleslaw, gratin and even work well on a pizza. Sprouts are great teamed with strong cheeses, onions and bacon.

Vicky stir fries her sprouts in olive oil alongside some jerusalem artichokes (sliced like water chestnuts) and then dressed with a little onion balsamic vinegar from our selection from Wildon Grange. Jeni likes sprouts steamed but also eats a lot of them raw. We have customers who make a sprout curry and they very kindly brought us some in to try. It was unbelievably good!

We harvest our sprouts loose but also on the stalk. Buying them this way  means they stay fresher for longer and you can just pick off what you need at any one time. You can also use the sprout tops from the stalk for cooking and last Christmas we had many people coming in for these as they were featured on television by award winning chef Tom Kerridge. If you would like the sprout tops on their own, we are happy to go cut you some fresh from our field.

If you need any more ideas for ways to cook sprouts, go check out our Pinterest board below. Hopefully we'll convert a few more of you to being sprout lovers!

Follow Whiteleys's board Brussel Sprouts on Pinterest.

Friday, 17 October 2014

This week on the farm

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Hello there!

This week on the farm has been another busy one with a lot of rain. Waterproofs, wellies and thermals are the order of the day.  But thankfully this afternoon the sun appeared and it was beautiful picking the Russet apples from the trees. They are available in the shop now.

The Jerusalem Artichokes plants are flowering in the field and we have just started harvesting them for the shop, farmers markets and deliveries. If you have never tried them, they are utterly delicious roasted and only need a light scrub and there is no peeling required. Jerusalem Artichokes have a nutty flavour and are sweet and crunchy too. They also make a wonderful soup.

Our pumpkins have been proving extremely popular and today we've been featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post. A big thank you to Lucy, George and Harry for being our 'pumpkin models'!  If you haven't already picked your pumpkin then get in this weekend to the farm shop as they are going fast. Domino also decided to give modelling a go!

Finally, Vicky and her mum, Heather will be at Oakwood Farmers' Market tomorrow. They will have a selection of autumnal plants and lots of our lovely vegetables. Come down and visit the stall and get some of our homegrown parsnips, cabbages, cauliflowers, squash, potatoes and many more. Vicky has also been interviewed over on the Oakwood Farmers' Market website and you can check that out here.

We look forward to welcoming you to the shop soon!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Bedtime for the bees

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With the advent of the cooler autumn days it is time to make winter preparations for the bees. Although they do not hibernate through the winter they do go into a semi dormant state and remain in a cluster in the hive over the cold winter months surviving on their stores of honey.

As a beekeeper I need to make sure that each colony has enough to safely see them through the winter. This is done by hefting the hives to see if there is enough weight in there, if they are light then I make up a thick sugar solution which they will use to fill up their stores until the hive is the required weight.

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By now there are no males in the colony, the girls have evicted them as they have no use over the winter months (in fact they only have one use through the summer!). The girls have no intention of feeding them throughout the winter when the queen will just make some new ones in the spring. Sorry boys but you are completely dispensable in the bee world. Alas the boys will not be able to survive without the workers so the Apiary becomes a bit of a drone graveyard so there is a bit of sweeping up to do to get rid of the bodies.

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I have monitored the varroa count to see how badly infested the bees are and I need to treat all but one of my colonies. This is to reduce the amount of varroa mites that are feasting on the bees blood (varroa are the mini Vampires of the bee world). A heavily infested colony is open to getting more diseases which are transferred by the mite, this is a factor in many colonies dying out over the winter.

Finally I need to put on the mouseguards to prevent a hungry mouse from getting into the hive to steal the bees supplies. The bees would attack an intruder however it would result in losing a significant amount of bees when all are needed to survive the winter and establish the next generation in the spring.

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We have lots of Vicky's lovely honey in stock in the farm shop now!

Words by Vicky Whiteley. Photographs by Jeni Chillingsworth except images of varroa which have been taken from wikipedia.