The 2019/20 winter must have been one one the most challenging UK farming has had to endure for many years. We've recently had the wettest period of weather on record with particularly severe flooding affecting the North and West. But even in the South East farmers have not been able to get on the land as it's been so wet.
Pioneering farmers Peter and Andrew Fairs, of Great Tey in Essex, have successfully grown the first ever crop of British chia. These tiny oil-rich seeds represent another step in Hodmedod's mission to increase the diversity of both British farming and British diets.
It's wonderful to see Professor Martin Wolfe's pioneering work on agroforestry reported in the The Guardian & reaching a wider audience. Martin is a long-time friend and mentor to Hodmedod, and grows naked barley, lentils, wheat and more for us. His whole farm system approach and drive for diversity at every level are an inspiration to us
After a global search for seed, a couple of years of trials (and several months working out how to flake and mill it) we’ve finally welcomed organic naked barley into the Bean Store.
We've been privileged to work with Essex quinoa pioneer Peter Fairs over the last few years to develop supply of some of the very first British-grown Quinoa. As drilling of this year's crop approaches we've been getting nostalgic re-reading this article by journalist Craig McLean on the launch of our first trial batch in 2014.
Israeli archaeologists claim to have dug up the world's oldest fava beans, suggesting that beans may have been the very first farmed crop. Does this mean the paleo diet is old hat and neo(lithic) eating the new thing?
Four or five years ago, when Nick, William and I were all working for East Anglia Food Link and developing the Norwich Resilient Food Project with Transition City Norwich, we talked a lot about lentils. We were thinking about what a more sustainable diet might look like for the city of Norwich; what would people eat if they were more reliant on local production? How would farming have to change? It seemed to us that lentils could be part of the answer.
Last autumn Christine Smallwood, good friend of Hodmedod and a writer with a passion for Italian food, sent me a small packet of Cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus also called 'grass pea') to try cooking with.