June 2020 - Thank goodness for food

Published in Charlbury Chronicle June 2020

Food has been keeping me going physically and mentally through this lock-down and I’ve been so pleased that I’ve been able to help the people of Charlbury get a good supply of fresh veg straight from local growers.

Organising the Styan veg box collection on a Saturday afternoon so that 100 families could collect their food safely was an interesting challenge and it seems to have worked well. The original idea came from Nikki Rycroft and Janet Burroughs arranged it with the Styan family from the Vale of Evesham who regularly come to our Farmers Market. Liz Styan is thrilled that Charlbury stepped up to help them find new customers after they lost their pub and restaurant trade. Turns out we are now their biggest drop-off after Kings Heath in Birmingham which is a long-established market, so well done Charlbury! See the event advert on www.charlbury.info for links to place an order.

I am also fortunate that I co-founded The Kitchen Garden People 4 years ago with Emma Mills and Dan Betterton and have therefore been allowed to get out of the house and help produce food and deliver it to our members. I can’t tell you how lucky I have felt going up to Honeydale Farm just above Ascot-u-W with its views over the Evenlode, where we are part of the new FarmED venture. I’ve also been picking asparagus every other day throughout May at our original Chadlington Kitchen Garden – a welcome “chore” these days. We grow following organic methods and we operate as a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – where our members pay a fixed amount each month and receive an equal share of whatever we produce each week throughout the year. In summer there is far more than in winter but there is a salad bag all year round with the winter salad mix having more mustardy flavoured leaves than in the summer. This past winter was so wet we lost a lot of crops, but that actually highlights one of the feel-good things about the CSA, our members have that intrinsic contact with their food supply and experience the ups and the downs - they share the risk as well as the bounty. Each year we manage to increase our polytunnels and therefore our membership, we currently have about 60 members and will be increasing to 80 in June. We also supply our members with 100% grass-fed beef and lamb from local farms as well as Deep’s Sourdough bread. See our website www.thekitchengardenpeople.org to find out more.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet and help our gut bacteria keep us happy. Experiments show that where people eat a lot of junk food then their health deteriorates both physically and mentally. Living under lock-down has changed our lives so much - some people have really taken to cooking, but this can be very difficult when you are living alone – and even I recognise that I don’t feel like cooking if it’s just for me. Fortunately I’m not on my own and so I am happily cooking vegetarian meals every day. I would be really happy to cook some extra for anyone living alone who is finding cooking for themselves difficult, so please contact me (811057). I have had fun posting to the new CharlburyCAN Instagram site launched to make up for the cancellation of the Food Festival in April. Have a look to find out my favourite recipes  www.instagram.com/charlburycan_/ and share your own with #charlburyCANcook etc.

The apple blossom has been magnificent this year and if there has been good pollination then we could be facing the prospect of a bumper apple harvest. But, with lock-down restrictions and social distancing I just can’t imagine how I can pick and distribute apples this year. Picking is a solitary occupation so as long as the owners let me pick then I will have apples to give away, but the bun fight Big Apple Take-Aways just won’t work at all! I’ve been trying to work out what we can do but haven’t thought of a good safe solution yet. So, I would like to share this challenge with the rest of Charlbury – if you have any suggestions please contact me: sharecroppers@charlburygreenhub.org.uk

Charlbury Green Hub