Tag Archives: Food

Stuck in Essaouira

9.30am, standing on the train platform at Meknes, we actually had a ticket booked for Marrakech.  Five minutes before our departure we noticed that our train continued onto Essaouira which we knew had the ocean, warmth and a less hectic pace of life.  Nina ran into the ticket office and extended our journey.  We arrived here the same evening.

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A more touristy holiday destination feel has not overshadowed our need to be here.  Warmth, fresh local seafood and a lovely cheap room around a central courtyard perfect for writing up that third diploma project.  It’s twelve days since we arrived and we’re starting to talk about moving on now.

I’ve got my next project under control, we’ve confirmed some wwoof hosts for Spain and just about exhausted our local food options where it was nice to feel like regulars for a few days.  Essaouria has been kind to us.  Enjoy the pictures…

Patch Packdown

I’m writing this post from a blue washed rooftop in Chefchaouen, Morocco.  We arrived a week ago after a fairly hands on last week at the Patch in England.  We managed to do everything we felt we needed to do to leave it in a good place for the future.

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The Main achievement was turfing, sealing, tidying and guttering the roof and setting up the water tanks.  With the help of Dad and a few days graft we should now always have water on site to help keep the young fruit trees nourished in their early years.  Still no news on the planning application however the water tanks are essential to good harvests in years to come.  With more help this time from Mum and Nina’s tireless shit shovelling efforts we managed to sheet mulch every single tree and section of hedging that was planted last year.

Two or three soft fruits were planted around each fruit tree, and many interplanted with nitrogen-fixing shrubs, mostly, seabuckthorn berry.  We laid thick sheets of cardboard and then dumped on a good load of old horse poo and mulched around each one, joining to form islands or guilds.  Next went in comfrey root cuttings and on top we sewed a mixture of beneficial insect/bee plant seed, mineral miner seeds, herbs and basically anything we had from the seeds saved last year .  For minimum effort and a few minutes sewing we produce the possibility of plenty of beneficial plants popping up.  The alder hedge, elaeagnus hedge and the edible hedge all got heavily mulched that will hopefully kick start a growth spirt this year.

Nina put the veggy garden to bed under black plastic weighed down by tyres.  This should ensure a weed free experience when we next want to use it.  We had a general clear up and an all round nice “Bon Voyage” bonfire with Woody to mark the end of a massively productive year at the Patch.  Here’s hoping friends and family can enjoy some fresh fruit soon…

Patch Update…

Happy new year everyone!  We have not heard anything yet from the council regarding our planning application but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.  More trees arrived from Martin Crawford at the end of November and we planted the remaining food forest specimens straight away.  We also got a bunch of shrub and understory soft fruit and various other interesting bushes which we planted too.  Using cardboard we heavily sheet mulched around each tree creating small guilds and covered over with plenty of 15 year old horse poo and then green waste top dressing for mulch.  This should hopefully kill back the grass whilst providing some extra organic material to our sandy soil whilst the fruit trees are establishing.  Work on the roof continued and we’re close to finishing off now. We’ve completed the turfing and put the weather boarding around the outside. A gutter for water catchment is all that’s needed to finish off.  It’s a strange feeling putting in so much work at the patch and to be leaving it all behind but on our return to England we will have some well established fruit trees hopefully.  Best news of all is that Nina and I booked our tickets to leave England and we’ll be heading off on our first leg to Australia by bus to Morocco in 2 weeks!  From there we’ll begin to plan the rest of our journey and we’ll be doing the first of our Wwoof to Oz exchanges.

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Mum’s Medlar Jelly

It’s that time of year again when Mum has an abundance of medlar fruit hanging on the tree in the front garden.  In years gone by she has let friends in the village come and take them away but this year she decided to make some medlar jelly with a little help from me.  You can pick them hard and let them blet but we allowed them to blet on the tree before picking them and also collecting the ones that had dropped to the ground to.  In all we had 14lbs of fruit to play with.

Firstly we washed, rinsed and quartered all the fruit and then placed into a preserving pan and added just enough water to cover (half a pint to each pound of fruit).  We then simmered for 30 to 45 minutes until soft and pulpy.

Next was the fun part of straining.  Mum only had a small jelly bag so we utilised some thick stockings too.  The important thing here is not to squeeze or force the pulp through the nets as this will produce cloudy jelly.  We allowed ours to drip through the night.

Once we were happy that all the juice had dripped through we measured the amount of juice and made a note of it.  Then we poured it into a clean preserving pan and brought to boiling point.  We then added 650g of sugar to every litre of juice we had.  At this stage we added the juice of 3 lemons.

We continued stirring until all the sugar was dissolved (stirring in one direction only reduces foam).  We boiled rapidly until setting point was reached.  To test this we put a blob of jelly on a fridge-cold saucer.  Once cooled we ran a finger through it to see if it cracked.  Mum then carefully poured the jelly into some already sterilised jars and voila!  I think we’ll try it with some roasted pheasant tomorrow.

Project Report 1

Well I feel that I have finished my first project report ready for tutor and peer review.  After starting a couple of months later than the rest of the gang I have been slightly rushed but in keeping with the 80:20 rule it’s better to get the work in than spend another 80% of my time getting 20% more work done??? I could definitely tweak my CV and will be spending some time on that in the coming days.  It’s been a little stop start as the haven of my parents house which I had to myself to start this project is now full with people and concentrating was difficult.  Plus we are now fully immersed in The Patch with the roof to finish and plenty of trees to plant, mulch and support!  Watch this space for updates on the freshly planted food forest including lots of soft fruit, sea buckthorn and comfrey going in and this week we will be finishing the roof at last!!!

Forest Gardening by Robert Hart

I’ve just finished reading this amazing and insightful book by Robert Hart.  When learning about designing a food forest I kept hearing about how not to do it like Robert Hart did which intrigued me.  Mostly people have talked about his closed canopy temperate forest garden which didn’t allow much light to the lower layers.    I say that it’s a good job somebody didn’t do it perfectly as it has allowed the rest of us to learn from his non-perfect garden.  In this book however Robert talks in depth about his philosophies and world views with great suggestions and solutions whilst referencing some great work that I had not come across before.  A must read for perma-junkies or indeed anyone interested in world changing!

November at The Patch

On returning from our road trip we came back to a very different Patch.  As we move through autumn our vegetable garden has started to die back although there are still a few bits and pieces to harvest.  The trees have started to lose their leaves and the medlar has dropped some fruit.  The green roof is looking great and we’re really keen to get this finished in the next couple of weeks.   Other jobs in the coming weeks will be the planting and mulching of a new delivery of fruit and other interesting trees as well as soft fruit and nitrogen fixers for the food forest.  We’ll be planting and then mulching and adding other support plants to create balanced guilds that will have a better chance of survival in our absence.

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A visit to see Paul in Sheffield was also on the cards and it was a great place to start some ground work for my diploma pathway.  I made full use of Paul’s flat whilst he was at Uni and we even managed a walk in the Peak District which looks amazing at this time of year.  After a quick stop over for a party in London, I travelled down to Bradford-upon-Avon for my belated Diploma induction and a catch up with Richard, Michelle and Grace.  It was great to also see some other Diploma students and old friends permablitzing their lives!!!  Couldn’t help a little mushroom hunt when I got back to Norfolk.  Goose common is right next door to The Patch and is a great foraging spot.  Only poisonous fungi about today though…  Diploma work to do…

Cornwall

On route to Cornwall we visited the Eden Project.  It’s incredible and well worth the visit.  Sitting on the site of a disused clay quarry it’s demonstrates the power of regeneration in only 12 years.  I am somewhat dubious about their energy usage but they are displaying an incredible amount of learning material.  It seems they will soon be building a large geothermal power plant.  We also visited friends in Cornwall.  Living in a small yurt community and studying renewable energy at Falmouth Uni is a nice combination.  On leaving Cornwall we ended up in Somerset and the first stop was Burrowhill Cider!

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Devon

After leaving the New Forest and spending a few days on the Jurassic coast we came to Devon.  This amazing county has so much to offer.  We visited victorian walled kitchen gardens, did a bit of basic cider making, toured around Martin Crawford’s Food Forest demonstration site, picked more mushrooms, visited travelling friends and explored Dartmoor with them.  We checked out the last remaining working water powered forge and Lydford Gorge… amazing times.

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Finding Food Down South

We found ourselves on the Isle of Wight in the middle of September and on visiting an amazing garlic farm we stumbled across the beginnings of our new found addiction – mushrooms!!!  It was the perfect time of year and so we treated ourselves to a great new book by Roger Phillips and began our exploration the fungi world.  It took me back to when I was a child hunting for mushrooms with my sister in the forests around Thetford.  We got a taster on the Isle of Wight before moving into The New Forest.  Wow!  The place was teeming with them and it wasn’t long before we’d come to recognise and find some nice edibles.  The Trumpet Chanterelle, Hedgehog Fungus and the Cep were our first true wild muchroom cooking experiences.  We were addicted.  Another amazing wild food down in that part of England is the Sea Buckthorn Berry, it’s little orange berries provided an incredible amount of nutrition. Find more information at PFAF

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