Incredibly, pretty much all the 2022 crops have been harvested by mid August. In the south of England chia, quinoa and trial-plot beans remain in the field, while in the north and in Scotland there are still cereals and fava beans to come - but they’re not far off and it’s all quite extraordinary. Though we suspect it may become increasingly ordinary over coming years.
In more usual years we’d only just be thinking about lentil harvesting at this point of the summer, and chickpeas (which came in a couple of weeks ago) have never been ready to cut before the first week in September.
While most of the new season crops are in from the fields, we now have to wait patiently for them to be moved from the farms and cleaned. New season pulses, grains and seeds will start appearing on our website over the next month or so.
In early August an especially exciting harvest at Shillingford Organics near Exeter saw Martyn and the team bring in their barley and pea bicrop, the culmination of a conversation we began at an Oxford Real Farming Conference event at Wakelyns last summer.
Peas love growing with something - they like the support, and being held up by the barley makes them easier to harvest. The barley had the bonus of a little bit of extra nitrogen because the peas encouraged bacteria in the soil to pull it out of the atmosphere and convert it into something plants can access - the peas bribe the bacteria with sugar.
Peas and barley are very different and so easy to separate after harvest. The problem - as Andy from Wildfarmed outlined in his recent Guardian article - is that the commodity trade isn’t much interested in this extra complexity so there’s far less infrastructure than is needed for a wider shift to bicropping - and even more diverse - approaches to cropping.
At Wakelyns Agroforestry lentils and YQ wheat have been harvested from the agroforestry alleys.
We’ve also delighted to share the fantastic news that Wakelyns has made the final 3 in the Farming Today Farming for the Future Award category of the BBC Food and Farming Awards 2022.
It’s absolutely brilliant - Wakelyns has been at the forefront of systems change in farming for more than a quarter of a century, firstly pioneering approaches to production (such as agroforestry and population cereals) that are increasingly widely applied on other farms and more latterly working to develop a socio-economic approach that facilitates land access, rural employment, learning and community development. They’re an absolutely wonderful bunch of people too!
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A few years ago we were looking for a sweetner for some granola recipes, something UK produced and minimally processed. When our apple syrup order from Liberty Fields arrived we knew we were onto something special - we quickly added them to our short list of brilliant Guest Producers
We've launched ten pulses and grains from British farms as part of Holland & Barrett's transformation of their food range, available in their stores across the UK. It's a fantastic opportunity to make British-grown fava beans, carlin peas and quinoa, along with other pulses and cereals, available more widely and to support more diverse farming.
Down a warren of country lanes, not far from the Tamar Valley in Cornwall, is Julie Bailey's orchard Lower Trelabe, where she grows historic local varieties of apple and makes her delicious Apple Natural apple shreds, traditional fruit leathers that contain only the natural plant sugars.