Posts Tagged ‘crop for the shop’

Bumper Crop of Apples, time for Farm shops to act as community juice/cider maker?

Bumper crop of apples

Bumper crop of apples

This year there is a bumper Crop of Apples, many falling to the ground and wasted. We see this as a great opportunity for Farm shops to win customers by acting as community food hero and invite locals to bring their apples to make juice or cider.

We think farm shops should try and become the centre of their local food community and differentiate themselves from the supermarket as much as possible.

This can be done with fresher, local, fruit & veg, cheaper prices, better service, pick your own, animals around the car park, nature trails, tastings, cookery demonstrations, courses, crop for the shop, food swaps, and seasonal open days like, apple day, where locals can bring their apples and bottles to be pulped and juiced using the Farm Shop’s juice press.

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Every community should really have an orchard and apple press, after all ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. As most communities have a farm shop it seems to make sense to make the shop that centre. Especially if locals are encouraged to switch from the supermarket to buying from the shop and even growing produce to sell in the shop, with our Crop for the Shop scheme, or cooking to swap food at the shop on special food swap days.

People who love making cakes can swap a cake with someone who loves making stew, then do the rest of their shopping before they go home. All bringing new customers to the farm shop.

Switch from the supermarket? YES, we must. Perhaps not completely at first, try the local butcher or farm shop every week, (using our local food map) and the supermarket once a month for washing stuff, loo rolls, etc. You should save money, get better food and encourage more local production.

So the next time you visit your local farm shop mention apple day, crop for the shop and food swaps. If they are keen and not on BigBarn please tell them to contact us.


BigBarn’s view on Free school meals

Government news that kids are going to get free school meals is great for some kids and parents, but please do a proper job, rather than try and score political points!

Mum passing fast food to child from the cemetery next to Rawmarsh school.

Mum passing fast food to child from the cemetery next to Rawmarsh school.

The trouble is that some school meals are terrible, and far too many kids have become too fussy. We need all school meals to be good, and made by enthusiastic, caring, cooks, and need kids to appreciate and enjoy what they are given.

Jamie Oliver has done some brilliant work on this and progress has been made despite the occasional, horrific, and ironic, pictures of parents passing fast food through the school railings from the cemetery.

We need to get kids interested in real food and why we are still shouting about our Crop for the Shop in schools project were attitudes to real food were transformed by the growing, harvesting and cooking fruit and veg. ‘I hate carrots.’ turned in to ‘cor, they’re lovely, can I have another one’?

To see more click on the video link:

So please bring food in to the curriculum with a small allotment in every school, fruit and nut trees surrounding playground and even chickens.

For more on Crop for the Shop in schools click here

Guest Blog: Plan Your Polytunnel, and Pay Dividends in Produce

A big welcome to Lucy at the Smallest Smallholding. It is fantastic to see food growing on a small scale with enthusiasm for quality and often unusual food. We need more people like Lucy to get out and about and show how growing food is good for the soul, health, and wealth with our Crop for the Shop scheme. So here’s Lucy:luce_yoko2

Here at The Smallest Smallholding – a domestic, backyard project aimed at living a bit of the good life – we have invested in a modest 10ft polytunnel to not only give our vegetable harvest, a much-needed boost, but to also help create conditions that will allow us to expand on the range of fruit and veggies that we currently grow. For instance, sweet potatoes – commonly important from the USA and farther afield – prefer moist, warm conditions that are difficult at best to replicate outside of a polytunnel in our mild UK climes.

For years, I’ve coveted fruit and veg that thrive in warmer climes– so when our tunnel is finally in action, I’m looking forward to the prospect of adding the likes of sweet potatoes, Italian cucumbers, more peppers and cucurbits to the mix. We also hope to extend our growing season either side of the frosts in early Spring and late Autumn, making us just that little bit more self-sufficient throughout the year.
But thanks for a prolonged period of hot, dry weather, there were a few weeks this year when we were unable to get a fork in the ground. Our sandy soil has a tendency to turn virtually rock-like in such conditions, and so we have faced a delay in getting the polytunnel up over the summer as originally planned. It has, however, given us a little extra time to tweak our plans and do a little bit of research, which will hopefully pay in dividends when it comes to harvesting our polytunnel produce. So here are some simple, rudimentary (but important) tips to consider if you’re thinking of investing in a polytunnel of your own.

Siting Your Polytunnelpolytunnel1

Although preferable, your polytunnel doesn’t have to be sited on flat ground. If being sited lengthways down a slope, as long as the polytunnel hoops are level on both sides and the incline relatively steady, positioning the tunnel down a slope shouldn’t present any problems. If you’re erecting a polytunnel sideways down an incline, then things become a little more complicated and it’s probably best to opt for some professional advice ( have a wealth of knowledge about such things!).

Next, it’s time to think about orientation. East to west offers exposure to sunlight all day – great if you want to grow veg that requires the same conditions all year round, as the temperature inside the polytunnel tends to stay more even throughout the day. However, if you want to grow a variety of fruit and veg with differing growing preferences, you can opt for a north-south positioning on your plot, as the northern end will offer cooler conditions, with the southern end warming up much more.

You should also think about the strength and direction of prevailing winds – we are lucky in that our patch is enclosed by fencing, and various types of hedging, so strong gusts of wind aren’t an issue. But in more open spaces, it’s best to locate your polytunnel closer to hedges and natural wind breaks (with at least 3ft clearance either side), to prevent any damage from stronger winds. However, bear in mind that it’s not ideal to site your polytunnel close to overhanging tree branches, especially those that drop their leaves. This is because the leafmould, sap and honeydew from insects feeding on the trees can cause all kinds of problems and mess with the polytunnel cover, causing you more work in the long run!polytunnel4

Lastly, consider how your polytunnel will be fixed; with foundation tubes on softer ground, you can opt for anchor plates, which need to be dug into the ground before construction begins. On hard ground, the foundation tubes can be fixed and bolted directly to the hard surface. If space is an issue, then base rails will be a necessity, as they won’t require a trench to be dug out around the perimeter of the polytunnel to secure the cover.

Take all the above into consideration before you get building, and the chances are that you’ll face a much smoother construction process… at least, that’s the theory!

Polytunnel photos complements:©

Feeding 9 billion people by 2050

With the world population predicted to grow to 9 billion people, can local food help feed the world?

We are told that to feed the world, as we do now, food production must double by 2050. This means continuing to waste 20-30% of food and feeding grain to animals, to produce meat, that could feed 5 billion people instead.

This very good video explains this problem and includes local food production as one of the four strands in the answer to how to feed 9 billion people. As a passionate local food advocate I am disappointed that more is not made of the other benefits of a local food systems, mainly, the benefits of reconnecting people with food producers so encouraging trade and communication leading to better food knowledge.
The National Trust's Sowing Squad
This knowledge can be hugely beneficial including; using cheap seasonal products, how to cook, eating less meat, how to store over produced foods. All helping reduce waste, and consumption, in the shorter supply chain, as well as from each household.

In addition local reconnection can support schemes like BigBarn’s Crop for the Shop initiative, or as covered in a previous blog, the Chinese authorities giving seeds and compost to people living in blocks of flats. Suddenly local people can go from net consumers, to producers, as they grow their own and join the local food supply chain.

So don’t delay, join the local food industry!

Super seasonal food; Beetroot

Wonder veg

Wonder veg

Beetroot wonder food. You can cleanse your liver, lower blood pressure, fight cancer with anti oxidants. It contains a natural chemical present in many anti-depressants as well as provide a natural way to test the quality of your stomach acid. If your urine turns pink after eating beetroot you are in good condition!

As for proof: Research published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension showed that drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice led to a reduction in blood pressure within one hour.

sliced wonder veg

sliced wonder veg

In studies conducted by Exeter University, scientists found cyclists who drank a half-litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20% longer than those who drank a placebo of blackcurrant juice.

Luckily it grows really well in the UK and its not too late to plant some. So find fresh beetroot on our local food map or grow some, and sell any excess via our Crop for the Shop scheme.

BBC; Cheese is from plants, chips grow on trees!

A survey reported by the BBC shows an alarming lack of food knowledge. But hardly surprising when the modern food industry and retailers have separated consumer from producer. Why should a child know whether potatoes are grown underground or up a tree when they rarely see food production or are not taught about food at school?

Most of the fields around me at the moment are either yellow with oil seed rape or green with wheat, and look nothing like the food on my plate. I expect most goes to feeding animals in intensive ‘factory’ farms, also hidden from the consumer.

It seems unlikely that we will return to the days when small mixed farms surrounded housing, so bringing food growing and cooking in to the curriculum, like the school in the report, is a fantastic idea.

School Crop for the Shop on BBC

School Crop for the Shop on BBC

The school project we ran showed how enthused children are when given the opportunity to learn and interact with growing and cooking food. After all, we eat 3 times a day and have the primal urge of hunger.

So Victorian food for History, designing food labels for Art, seed rates for Maths, growing plants for Biology, must make each subject more relevant and easier to learn. Add to this the incentive of making some money by selling any excess food through BigBarn’s Crop for the Shop scheme, and we may see the next generation enjoying healthier food and saving the NHS a fortune. Perhaps even see a new generation of farmers?

Prince Charles attack on Food Industry

imagesIt was great to see a number of newspapers report on Prince Charles’ attack on the food industry. Backing up what we at BigBarn (Social Enterprise), have been saying for years. So here is our take on what is wrong with the anti-social, food industry, why local is better, and how we are going to build a better, more social, local, food industry.

The Prince sent us a letter of encouragement 7 years ago and I hope he has watched our progress and, perhaps, read a few BigBarn blogs for inspiration! It is fantastic that in a position of power he gives his unbiased opinion on food and farming, and raises awareness as the media report.

There is little doubt that something is wrong with the food industry, with; obesity, continuing food scares, and farmers, on average, only getting 9p in every £1 spent on food in a supermarket.

So here are some BigBarn blogs on this subject. Including; what is wrong, why local is better and how to encourage people to change, and divert as much of the £120billion spent with supermarkets, to local communities, with massive social benefit:


Blogs on what is wrong:

Shocked to see horse meat in ready meals?

Will middlemen destroy the food Industry?

Misleading Food Advertising

Blogs on why local food is better

Really Fresh, healthy, Asparagus

Growing & eating local food to enthuse kids and get them healthy

BigBarn About us video

Family Farm Shop

Family Farm Shop

Blogs on how we can change

Getting people enthused about cooking

BigBarn on Radio 4 & our strategy for change

In Summary: Big business and retailers have disconnected consumers from producers and many people have become semi addicted to the simple, one stop shop. Unfortunately this has led to farmers getting a very low price and consumers buying the wrong foods at high prices.

Luckily local food suppliers are offering a better alternative with cheaper, fresher, food, and knowledge. BigBarn is here to raise awareness to local food and encourage more people to break their one stop shop addiction and buy from, and communicate with, their local suppliers.

We live in a green and pleasant land perfect for growing food. Let’s switch to local and help build a more sustainable, social, food industry.