It’s the Hungry Gap!

Written by Pete Richardson. Posted in Latest News

This is such an exciting time of year for organic growers: All the new crops are being propagated in the polytunnels or sown directly in the field, and everything is starting to come to life as the sun warms the soil.

Organic spinach--Westmill OrganicsBroad beans, onions and potatoes have already gone in directly into the ploughed fields, and many hundreds of tomatoes and peppers have been potted on–we keep them warm at night with fleece and bubble-wrap blankets in case of a late frost! The baby bunched carrots are coming on a pace in the tunnel, as are spinach and chard. By June, we’ll have sown many hundreds of thousands of seeds for a non-stop supply of delicious organic vegetables for your boxes: 100,000 carrots and leeks, 30,000 parsnips, 30,000 caulis, calabrese, and cabbage, as well as beans, peas, onions, squash, courgettes, and so on. But all this work is in preparation for boxes later in the year.Organic seedlings -- Westmill Organics

For although the sun is finally starting to shine, and the countryside is stirring into life, we are now smack bang in the middle of the “hungry gap” in the UK. It’s the name for the period from around late March to May when all the winter crops are either starting to dwindle (or are reaching the end of their shelf lives), yet the new crops we have sown are not yet ready. For UK growers, the next few weeks can be a little frustrating, to say the least! For the die-hard seasonal fans out there, we are proud to have been supplying so much of our own produce for so long. At times in the last month the small boxes have had 100% of our own veg.

Pete - polytunnelBut while many of you would no doubt be prepared to swallow the “seasonal sword” and simply dine on purple sprouting broccoli and leeks and salad leaves grown at Westmill, our priority is to offer you with the best tasting, most flavoursome veg we can, and to provide sufficient variety in your boxes to keep you happy! So you will see a little less of our own veg in your box between now and June. At this time of year we increasingly rely on our trusted organic wholesaler in Hereford, and other local organic growers who have a surplus, to top up what we cannot supply ourselves. But come June, as the season turns again, we will an abundance of our own delicious organic crops and find ourselves struggling to fit it all into your boxes. And looking at the fields and tunnels, I can promise you this summer will be very tasty!

Mud, mud, glorious (organic) mud…

Written by Pete Richardson. Posted in Latest News

In the winter months we inevitably get the odd complaint about the extra mud on our organic veg. Looking at the state of poor old Jonathon and Sheldon (pictured), the field conditions at this time of year can be pretty harsh for our pickers.
Jonathan and Sheldon--aka The Mud Men.

Jonathan and Sheldon–aka The Mud Men.

While we do our best to remove as much soil as we realistically can at both picking and packing stages, we don’t have the labour or the facilities to jet wash the veg clean, as the big suppliers do for their supermarket clients. We also think it’s a real waste of precious water and energy to clean the veg til they’re sparkling, and the extra handling and knocking about can actually lead to bruising and shorten the shelf life, too. Anyway, the mud has some positives: it helps to keep the veg fresher, providing a protective coating during handling and keeping moisture in. So please bear with us over the next few weeks–and when you’re scrubbing the spuds, spare a thought for the Mud Women & Men squelching about in the fields at Westmill… 😉

Westmill Organics Veg Box Deliveries for Christmas and the New Year!

Written by Pete Richardson. Posted in Latest News

 NEW YEAR WEEK

Christmas Small Vegetable Box
  • Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Red cabbage, Parsnips, Celeriac, Beetroot, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Lettuce
Christmas Medium Vegetable Box
  • Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Red cabbage, Parsnips, Celeriac, Beetroot, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Lettuce, Cherry tomatoes, Red peppers, Celery (for cooking)
Christmas  Large Vegetable Box
  • Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Red cabbage, Parsnips, Celeriac, Beetroot, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Lettuce, Cherry tomatoes, Red peppers, Celery (for cooking), Garlic, Cucumber, Mushrooms, Fennel
Christmas Veg Lovers Box
  • Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Red cabbage, Parsnips, Celeriac, Beetroot, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Lettuce, Cherry tomatoes, Red peppers, Celery (for cooking), Garlic, Cucumber, Mushrooms, Fennel, Courgettes, Ginger, Bean sprouts, Bay, Thyme, Lemons

If you have any questions about box deliveries over the holiday–or if you would like to change your order–please contact us by 3pm on Friday 12 December at info@westmillorganics.co.uk or call us on 01793 783569 (Monday and Tuesday 9am-3pm or leave a message).

***Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year***

With best wishes from the Westmill Organics team.

NEW: Delicious organic bread from local Aston’s Bakery in your box

Written by Pete Richardson. Posted in Latest News

Fresh organic loaves delivered to your door!

Fresh organic loaves delivered to your door!

As you may have read in our latest Newsletter, we’ve recently teamed up with Aston’s Organic Bakery in Lambourn to deliver bread in your boxes, freshly baked on Wednesday mornings. The first deliveries will start on 5th/6th November. You can choose from the following tasty options:

  • Stoneground Wholemeal 800g                                £3.40
  • Sunflower and Wholemeal 800g                              £4.20
  • Farmhouse White 800g                                         £3.40
  • Pain au Levain (Yeast free) 800g                             £4.40
  • Sourdough Rye (Wheat free and Yeast free) 800g       £3.80
  • Spelt Wholemeal Sourdough (Yeast free)                   £5.20
  • 7 Grain Levain (Yeast free) 400g                             £2.60
  • 7 Grain Levain (Yeast free) 800g                             £4.60
  • Walnut Levain (Yeast free) 400g                             £4.00
To place a regular (or one-off) order, send an email (with your customer number) to info@westmillorganics.co.uk by 9am on Monday and we’ll add the bread to your existing box order for the following Wednesday or Thursday. Simple!

The first deliveries will begin on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th November. So if you’d like to sign up, send us your email no later than 9am on Monday 3rd November!

Here’s a bit more information about Syd Aston and his organic bread…..

Established by Syd Aston in 1985, Aston’s is a small artisan bakery that’s been making organic bread and cakes for nearly 30 years! Originally based in London, they moved to new premises at Sheepdrove Organic Farm (12 miles from Westmill Organics) in January 2014. All ingredients are organic and locally sourced–for example, Doves Farm of Hungerford currently supply most flours–and the loaves are mixed, fermented, and shaped by hand, left to prove, and then baked on the stone floor of a large deck oven. Patience is the main ingredient: The fermentation time is long and no artificial stuff is used at any stage. Aston’s are pioneering the use of heritage cereals in their unique HERITAGE range.  While working on an organic farm in Prestwood,  Buckinghamshire, archeobotanist John Letts painstakingly collected and multiplied cereal varieties over a period of 15 years that were used to make traditional breads from the late 13th century until 19th century. Thousands of original varieties were collected from farmers’ fields and preserved in gene banks around the world. John’s medieval-style cereal populations were created from small samples; the white wheat flour is milled from a blend of over 150 varieties! Heritage crops are genetically diverse and well adapted to local growing conditions, which make them excellent for low-input and organic farming systems. The loaves made using this diverse, traditional cereals don’t have the high gluten content of the mass produced breads, making them suitable for many people with wheat or gluten intolerances–and the flavour is unbelievable. We have tasted this bread and we can assure it is some of the best we’ve ever eaten. All ingredients are organic (except water, salt and yeast). Choose your loaf from the selection above and contact us with your order. Bread will start appearing in your box from Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th November.

Undersown green manures – a key tool in organic growing

Written by Pete Richardson. Posted in Latest News

Organic squash undersown with trefoil

Organic squash undersown with trefoil

Although this is a lovely shot of our dear friend, James Clapp, tucking into his well-earned organic ice cream during a break in harvesting squash, any growers among you will have no doubt immediately noticed the quality of the undersown trefoil green manure! Earlier this summer, and once the squash was established, Pete undersowed trefoil seed — a nitrogen-fixing plant related to clover — in the hope that it would thrive and spread underneath the squash throughout the summer. And it has! Now the squash is harvested, the haulm will die back, leaving the trefoil to provide excellent ground cover over the winter months, limiting the amount of soil and nutrients that are washed away by the rain, among other benefits. In the early summer, we’ll plough it in, ready for the next crop. Hopefully the trefoil will have fixed a bit of nitrogen in the soil, too!

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