The Edible Garden Series

The Edible Garden – BBC TV Series (2010)

Gardener, presenter and writer Alys Fowler attempts to avoid shop bought fruit/vegetables and live off her own home grown produce. Alys focus on different foods and show how anyone can grow, cook and eat from their own garden even if they live in a urban environment. It’s no easy task for her because she doesn’t want to turn her garden into an allotment  so she’s growing her fruit and veg among flowers. Peas and beans are prolific vegetables but they also look beautiful in the borders too. Alys also goes and makes delicious broad bean falafels and pea shoot cocktails and forages for willow to make plant supports. She has two new additions to the family, her chickens!

As with all of these types of programs their is an element of it being unrealistic and just for TV but it’s still worth watching for those that enjoy this type of thing. I’m sure as with everything you’ll learn a thing or two along the way.

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Cornwall’s Carbon Neutral Farm Offers Hope For Sustainable Agriculture

Free range pigs, UK

With no experience in farming, the Sousek family left their urban life in Kent to run a farm powered by solar panels, a wind turbine and waste vegetable oil

Agriculture is responsible for almost 10% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and a quarter globally. It doesn’t have to be this way, as farmers Paul and Celia Sousek demonstrate. Their commitment to organic farming without the use of fossil fuels demonstrates that far from contributing to climate change, agriculture can be part of the solution. I headed to Cottage Farm near Jacobstow, North Cornwall to see how on-farm renewables are enabling the Sousek family to fulfil their role as stewards of the environment as they cultivate a successful, family-run farm business.

It’s hard to believe that Paul and Celia Sousek, Farmer of the Year finalists in the BBC Food and Farming awards 2011, had absolutely no farming experience when they upped sticks and moved 300 miles West to Cottage Farm back in 2005. Unfazed, they embarked on their new livelihoods with a weekend course in Cows for Beginners and now oversee 50 hectares of land which is home to cows, sheep, hens and some very vocal geese. So why did the couple leave behind successful careers and the life they had built in Kent to take to the Cornish fields?

“That’s a simple one to answer”, says Paul. “I learnt about peak oil. Right on cue we then had the oil crisis in 2007, swiftly followed by the financial meltdown in 2008. Some believe that has all been resolved, but together with the ever worsening climate change situation, I think our problems are only just beginning.”
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Study Finds Clear Differences Between Organic And Non-Organic Food

organic-food-post

Research is first to find wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals

Organic food has more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health than regular food, and lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides, according to the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date.

The international team behind the work suggests that switching to organic fruit and vegetables could give the same benefits as adding one or two portions of the recommended “five a day”.

The team, led by Prof Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University, concludes that there are “statistically significant, meaningful” differences, with a range of antioxidants being “substantially higher” – between 19% and 69% – in organic food. It is the first study to demonstrate clear and wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals.

The researchers say the increased levels of antioxidants are equivalent to “one to two of the five portions of fruits and vegetables recommended to be consumed daily and would therefore be significant and meaningful in terms of human nutrition, if information linking these [compounds] to the health benefits associated with increased fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption is confirmed”.

Organicfood
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Britain Must Grow More Sustainable Food

cowsgrass

Proposals for national food strategy calls for UK farming ‘revolution’ in response to climate change and food security (2010)

Britain must grow more food, while using less water and reducing emission of greenhouse gases, to respond to the challenge of climate change and growing world populations, the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, said yesterday.

“Food security is as important to this country’s future wellbeing, and the world’s, as energy security. We need to produce more food. We need to do it sustainably. And we need to make sure what we eat safeguards our health,” he said.

Launching the government’s food strategy for the next 20 years with a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, he proposed a consumer-led, technological revolution to transform UK farming.

“We know that the consequences of the way we produce and consume our food are unsustainable to our planet and to ourselves,” he said. “We know we are at one of those moments in our history where the future of our economy, our environment, and our society will be shaped by the choices we make now.”

He said consumers, rather than retailers, should lead by buying “greener” food, wasting less and growing more of their own: “People power can help bring about a revolution in the way food is produced and sold.”

Food businesses, supermarkets and manufacturers would follow consumer demand for food that was local, healthy and had a smaller environmental footprint – just as consumers had pushed the rapid expansion of Fairtrade products and free range eggs in the last decade, Benn said.
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Sustainable Livestock Production Is Possible

Sustainable Livestock

New research has identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.

Consumers are increasingly demanding higher standards for how their meat is sourced, with animal welfare and the impact on the environment factoring in many purchases. Unfortunately, many widely-used livestock production methods are currently unsustainable. However, new research out today from the University of Cambridge has identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.

Professor Donald Broom, from the University of Cambridge, who led the research said: “Consumers are now demanding more sustainable and ethically sourced food, including production without negative impacts on animal welfare, the environment and the livelihood of poor producers. Silvopastoral systems address all of these concerns with the added benefit of increased production in the long term.”
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Britain’s Oldest Tree

oldyewfull

‘Britain’s oldest tree’ is discovered in a Welsh churchyard and it’s more than FIVE THOUSAND years old

A tiny village is believed to be home to Britain’s oldest tree – a yew that first took took root more than 5,000 years ago.

The majestic yew that lives in in a Welsh churchyard was 3,000 years old when Jesus Christ was born, according to tree  ageing experts.

Experts have run tests on the tree in the St Cynog’s churchyard at Defynnog near Sennybridge, Powys, including DNA and ring-dating.

There are hundreds of ancient yew trees dating back at least 600 years across Britain, but the 60-foot-wide giant at St Cynog’s is believed to be the most ancient.

Tree ageing expert Janis Fry, 64, who has studied yews for more than 40 years, said: ‘I’m convinced this is the oldest tree in Europe

‘It was planted on the north side of the ancient burial mound which is now the churchyard, probably in honour of a neolithic chieftain.

oldyew

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Preserving Peru’s Potato Heritage

Knobby, round, smooth, oblong, purple-mottled – Peru is home to thousands of potato varieties. Researchers are teaming up with local farmers to exchange know-how to protect the country’s diversity of spuds.

Project goal: preserving the diversity of potatoes and securing food supply

Implementation: The International Potato Center collects, analyzes and conserves seeds and plants of all potato varieties in the world by relying on farmers’ knowledge. The documented genetic diversity of the potato is meant to help identify robust varieties that can withstand different weather conditions

Biological diversity: Peru has more than 4,000 potato varieties. In addition, there are a further 1,000 varieties from other countries

Brownish grey, knobby and no-frills – that’s usually what potatoes are like, right? Not in Peru where the tuber comes in all colors and sizes and, at times, in curious shapes. The country is home to more than 4,000 potato varieties. Potatoes are one of the most important foods worldwide. The tuber was first imported to Europe by Europeans traveling from Peru – though only a few varieties grow here. The International Potato Center (CIP) wants to save this diversity of tubers as climate change increasingly demands more resilient varieties. The potatoes of the future are currently stored in the cool storage rooms and gene banks of the CIP while their counterparts are flourishing in the high mountains of Peru. Researchers are working closely with the local population by providing them with purified seeds for better harvests. In return, the scientists are drawing on local knowledge about potatoes and which varieties are best suited to changing soil and weather conditions.

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