We’re Backing British Farming, and it’s Exciting!

Today is Back British Farming day!  Did you know that UK food self-sufficiency is now just 61% – down from 75% in 1991?  The campaign by countryside magazine highlights acres of reasons why British farming deserves your support, as well as offering you the chance to make a real difference.

The day coincides with the week that we took part in Go! Organic –  a London-based festival encouraging people to take part in organic living. We built and constructed a pop-up farm shop for the people of London, at which we showcased five of our key British growers.

The event was a huge success, with people lining up to buy our produce! We were very proud to be able to shout about the growers  – Sunshine & Green, Cherry Gardens, Tablehurst Farm, Dynamic Organics and Sweet Apples Orchard. Daniel from Orchard Farm’s eggs also went down a storm.  We had several comments on the quality of our produce, with some people even asking if it was real – the ultimate compliment.

We pride ourselves on our growers and the quality of our produce and our British farmers who are working hard to enhance the British countryside, protect the environment, maintain habitats for native plants and animals and support wildlife species. Whether it’s helping birds get through the winter months by putting down seed, establishing woodlands and hedgerows to create habitat for animals or planting fields of pollen and nectar rich flower mixes to feed bees and butterflies, British farmers are taking action every day.

Our growers take real pride in the land that they grow on, and try to encourage and enhance wildlife every step of the way. For example, Jonathan at Cherry Gardens Farm collects fallen apples over the summer and stores them until the winter, when he puts them out for the birds that may be struggling with the frozen ground, and Blueberry Bob in Horsham practises biannual thinning and coppicing of  woodland on the farm, which has encouraged flora and shrubs such as bluebells, narcissi and snowdrops, buddleia and elder and has recently received a forestry commission grant for coppicing regeneration.

With the spirit of buying British in mind – it’s time to introduce our new line of BRITISH GROWN pulses and grains! We’ve started stocking Hodmedod’s, who specialise in British grown chick peas, spelt grain, lentils, and – for the first time – British grown Quinoa. We’re very excited to have them on board, and are hoping that you can revolutionise your cupboards and eat more of these protein-based little treasures, safe in the knowledge that they’ve come from a local grower with a transparent food chain.

Buying British has never been more important. With climate change, rising diet-related ill-health and widespread declines in our wildlife, the need to produce healthy food, cut food miles and protect our wildlife is getting more important. Choosing how we eat is a simple but powerful form of direct action:

 

1.BUY BRITISH

  • Buy British food with a transparent supply chain – so you know the journey that your food has taken to get to your table. This way you can ensure that your food is of the highest quality, and that the farmer who grew it has been cut a fair deal.

 

2. EAT WITH THE SEASONS

  • You can check out the Great British Larderto find out when British fruit and veg are at their best. It’s important to eat seasonal produce because that allows you to buy British all year round. This cuts food miles and guarantees that your food has come from a place of quality.


3. CARE FOR THE COUNTRYSIDE

  • British farmers are custodians of around 75% of the British countryside. It’s important that we too take responsibility for it too.  Whilst out enjoying the countryside, make sure you take your litter home, follow the countryside code, and if out with your four legged friends, keep them on a lead around livestock and pick up after them.


At Greener Greens we take pride in our growers. All of them are independent, certified organic or biodynamic, and take great pride in their produce. This shows in the quality of the produce in our boxes that we send out weekly. The farms that we collect from all take great steps to preserve and encourage their natural environments and habitats. If you shop with us, you can guarantee that you’re backing British farming.

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Recipe: Pesto Spaghetti with Tofu

In this hot weather we don’t really want to spend time cooking! We’ve come up with a great simple recipe for your dinner – homemade pesto with spaghetti or tagliatelle and optional tofu. It works wonderfully with a tomato & red onion salad.  It’s really quick and easy to make and basil is one of the healthiest of the herbs!

Make the Pesto:

2 cloves garlic

1/2 handful of pine nuts

50g basil

parmesan cheese to taste

Put the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and chop them.  Then add the basil leaves (no stalks) and do a short burst so that the leaves are chopped, but not too finely.  Add some water to emulsify, give the processor a burst and then add grated parmesan cheese. Give the processor a burst and finally drizzle in a small amount of olive oil while the food processor is on.

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For the Pasta:

2 Courgettes, cut lengthways

250g spaghetti or linguine

150g tofu, cut into small cubes

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti along with the courgettes cut lenghtways. simmer until pasta is just done. If you’re using tofu, heat up a frying pan with olive oil and cook until slightly brown. Add half of the pesto to the pan to warm up, then add pasta and courgettes and season.  When warmed through turn onto plate and top with remaining pesto.

At the moment we have particularly gorgeous basil from Kent. Why not add it as an extra to your box?

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A Surrey Kitchen Recipe: Asparagus and Bok-Choy Frittata

We recently got in touch with Emma, a fabulous set-taught chef who runs the blog Surrey Kitchen. We asked her to create a recipe for the summer from some produce that we sent her. She came back with not one, but two brilliant recipes!  We’ll be keeping the second one from you for another week or so, but in the mean time here’s a great recipe for Asparagus and Bok-Choy Frittata. 

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Asparagus and Bok-Choy Frittata

Emma says:
“I adore Italian/Spanish Frittata but you do not need to limit yourself to traditional ingredients like onion, red pepper, garlic and cheese.  Here is a frittata with the Asian flavours of Bak Choy, grated ginger and asparagus for something a little different this summer.  Perfect for lunch in the garden or packed up in a tupperware box for a picnic with friends and family.”
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Ingredients

 

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pinch paprika

1 small head bok choy, cut into 1-inch pieces

¾ pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 1-inch pieces

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon pepper

9 eggs, beaten to mix

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

 

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Preparation Method:

 

1) Preheat oven to 325 F/165C. In a medium cast iron or ovenproof non-stick frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat.

2) Add the ginger, garlic, paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant (approx. 30 seconds).

3) Add the bok choy and cook stirring, until the leaves wilt, about 2 minutes.

4) Add the asparagus, salt and pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender (approx. 3 minutes more).

5) Evenly distribute the vegetables in the pan and then add the eggs and a touch of remaining salt and pepper.

6) Cook the frittata, without stirring, until the edges start to set, about 2 minutes.

7) Put the frittata in the oven and bake until firm, about 25 minutes. Drizzle the sesame oil over the top.

 

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That’s it, simple yet incredibly effective. We’ll be posting up Emma’s second recipe next week, which leaves you plenty of time to try this one! For more recipes visit Emma’s blog – Surrey Kitchen.

Paprika is used in this recipe. It is an anti-oxidant spice that really helps to fight disease. It’s a nice little addition to any recipe – find out more health benefits of herbs and spices on our previous blog post.

 

Uh Oh! There’s Meat in your Veggie Meal!

Last Friday it was revealed that traces of meat have been discovered in supermarket ready meals. Ready meals by both Sainsbury’s and Tesco have been caught out – and the presence of whole animal DNA indicates that the meals contain either meat or animal skin.

This is disturbing as every consumer has the right to know what is in their food.  In our society, it is fast becoming the norm to expect supermarkets to ‘lead the way’ when it comes to environmental issues. We’re expected to applaud them for voluntarily pledging to cut plastic waste by 2025, yet there are small businesses that have existed for years that have been built on environmentally friendly foundations from day one.  Finding meat traces in independently approved ready meals made by the supermarket giants themselves is just another scandal in a long, long line of them. And it’s not going to be the last either.

And yet, they still want us to feel dependent on them. Maybe it’s time we stopped waiting for the giants to decide when it’s time to start caring about the environment. After all – they only decide to change their ways when the consumers start to object to their practices – it’s rarely done for the good of the planet or because it’s simply the right thing to do.

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Big supermarkets work purely for profit – at the expense of the environment, the people who supply them and even their own customers. There are thousands of small, independent businesses out there which have been created out of love and passion for the way things should be done to ensure that everybody along the supply chain – along with the land itself – is treated fairly and with respect.

We keep saying it: The consumers are the ones with the power. We control where our money goes and who we give it to. Choosing where we buy is a powerful form of direct action. Let’s not leave the important decisions to the giants anymore – if we want to ensure that there’s no meat in our veggie meals, let’s make our own! If we don’t want to throw away plastic packaging every day, let’s not buy it in the first place. If we don’t buy it, they won’t put it on the shelves.

Most importantly – as a powerful consumer with the luxury of choice – let’s share that power with the small, independent and ethical business owners rather than the businesses that show us, time and time again, where their real priorities lie. We should make more of a conscious effort to buy from the people that really care, rather than the people that just pretend to.

 

Our New Grower: Sunshine and Green

Yesterday we went to visit Greg at Peacocks Farm in Wickhambrook. He is the latest small, independent farmer to supply us at Organics for All and we’re really quite excited about it.

Sunshine and Green grow a wide range of vegetables and fruit using totally Organic techniques, (as Greg says – “in a nut shell means that we feed the soil, rather then the plant”).  Soil health is the most important thing, because if the soil is healthy, then so are the crops. This means they can be strong and defend themselves from disease and pests.

 

We visited the poly tunnels and saw the gorgeous salad leaves, beetroot and leafies being grown and were immediately sold to the whole ethos of Sunshine and Greens. Greg uses a ‘no-dig’ method of organic farming – where the land is covered in sheeting for a few months before crops are planted, to kill any weeds. Tilling the soil releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as well as exposes a very delicate ecosystem to the air which dries it out.  The soil loses a lot of its nutrients as well as some of its organic matter, and as a consequence, does not retain water as well. The delicate soil structure is destroyed, compaction of soil occurs, leading to hardpan formation, and reduced water infiltration in the soil, and more surface runoff, which increases soil erosion.

 

Judging by the quality of the leafies we saw growing yesterday, the soil is very much enjoying this method, as is Gregg. He’s clearly very proud of the produce that he is growing at the moment, and if you take a look you can see why:

 

At the moment,  Sunshine and Green are able to supply freshly harvested fruit and vegetables to the surrounding towns, villages, pubs and shops. It is important to Greg that his market stays local so that he can retain the quality standards of the produce and ensure it is delivered fresh as fresh be can with shortest distances travelled from field to kitchen.

Like us at Organics for All, Sunshine and Green are passionate about their wildlife. The farm already plays hosts to some iconic birds, like buzzards and barn owls, and over the coming years they will be expanding the range of habitats for wildlife. They plan to plant areas of trees and hedging that will provide home and food for animals, as well as growing wild flowers and native meadow land. For every project undertaken on the farm, they’re always mindful of what impact it will have on the wild inhabitants of the farm.

 

We’re very excited to be working with Sunshine and Green and genuinely can’t wait to see what happens next  – because of growers like Sunshine and Green the future of food production in Suffolk is looking pretty great!

This week we have gorgeous mixed leaves from Sunshine & Green. Be sure to add them as an extra to your box.

 

 

National Vegetarian Week: A Rather Special Recipe

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, over the next four weeks we will be collating recipes from a variety of talented cooks and chefs. All of the recipes have been inspired and created by the produce that we have provided. Our aim is to prove that – whether you’re a Michelin starred chef, a baker or simply somebody that enjoys cooking, organic and vegetarian food is for everybody.  We’re really curious to see the different ways that our selection of produce is going to be used!

This week, we have teamed up with Javier Lopez – Chief Food Evangelist for the Winton Group. By combining our beautiful, independently grown produce and his exquisite culinary technique, a truly stunning recipe has been created. This recipe is perfect for special events and dinner parties, or for somebody who just wants to try something different. Read on to find out how to make this fabulous starter – and remember – all of this produce can be sourced locally by us, which will make it taste even better!

 

 

Chard, Spinach and Wild Garlic Millefeuille

 

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Ingredients for 4 portions, as starter:

2 duck eggs

50g Maldon salt

30g coconut sugar

25g fennel pollen

100g goat’s butter

50g fermented wild garlic

50g chard

50g perpetual spinach

40g wild garlic

Flowering shoots to garnish

 

Method:

  • You will need to cure your eggs a day in advance; combine 50g of salt, 30g of sugar and 25g of fennel pollen in a bowl, place half of it on a flat tray or container and make a small well with the back of a spoon, place the duck egg yolk (ensuring no egg white remains) in the well and cover with the rest of the cure mixture. Refrigerate for 24hours.

 

  • Clarify (skim the surface of the liquid as it is heated to remove impurities) 100g of goat’s butter, saving the milk solids for other use, add 200g of fermented wild garlic leaves, buds and flowers and a leaf of raw wild garlic. Puree until very smooth and add a little fennel salt.

 

  • Blanch (scald in boiling water and remove after a brief  interval) the fresh chard, spinach and wild garlic leaves in salted water and immediately refresh in iced water, quickly drain and dry.

 

  • Layer the leaves one by one brushing a little fermented wild garlic butter in between each layer, build it up until is around 3cm tall and refrigerate. Once cold, portion it by timing into rectangular pieces.

 

To Serve:

  • Get the yolks out of their cure and lightly rinse in cold water. Set aside.

 

  • Place the vegetable millefeuille onto a plate and wrap it with clingfilm, place the plate on top of a simmering pan with water and let it warm for 5-6 minutes.

 

  • Gently remove the millefeuille of the plate and place onto your serving plate or bowl, cut the egg yolks in half and place half of it on top on the millefeuille. Garnish with a raw shoot and its flower (you can use peas, wild garlic, nasturtium, chickweed, etc)

 

Recipe by Javier Lopez, Chief Food Evangelist.

 

Keep checking back for our follow up recipe posts! In the meantime – enjoy this one!

Let’s Have a Community Christmas this Year!

This year, Greener Greens have teamed up with several local organisations and charities to help others this Christmas. We have put together an “unwrapped” present scheme that benefits others in your community. Unwrapped gifts are a way of giving two gifts in one – you can buy a gift for a cause you really believe in on behalf of one of your friends or family.

We have developed our Greener Greens Unwrapped gifts over several years. We work with local Children’s Centres and charities to bring fresh organic veg, fruit and one or two sweeter goodies to local families and individuals who could benefit from help at Christmas.

Our team supply the produce at cost, fill the bags and pass the bags to the charity or Childrens’ Centre for distribution. The family bag contains 8kg of veggies and fruit. The small bag, which is aimed at senior citizens or a couple, contains 5kg. You pay for the bag, let the team know who you are buying it on behalf of and Greener Greens send your friend or relative a card letting them know what you have bought.

This year in particular, we are focusing on providing food to VARB – (Voluntary Action Reigate & Banstead). VARB devote themselves to building connections between charities and businesses and working together for the benefit of local people. This year, they are holding a ‘Festive Feast’ lunch on Christmas Day for those who either spend Christmas Day alone, or families who can’t afford a Christmas lunch.   We at Greener Greens are selling a bag which serves seven people for £12.50 – all of which will go straight to VARB and to those who need it most this Christmas.

After the success of our Family Bag scheme at Broadfield Children’s Centre in Crawley last year, we will be doing the same again this year but have widened it to the Early Help Service too. This year, West Sussex County Council are working on distributing bags that we are making up to the families that need the most help this Christmas. It is a very exciting thing to be part of – helping vulnerable and in need people to enjoy Christmas is possibly the best present you could give to anyone.

We are also close to creating a contact who will be able to distribute our Senior Citizens bags too – these contain 5kg of fresh fruit and vegetables to make sure that the elderly who are spending Christmas alone or as a couple are getting the healthy food that they need.

So this year, if you can afford to help spread the joy of giving this Christmas, then please consider buying one of our bags to help ensure that others can enjoy their Christmas too. In addition to giving a local family a head start at Christmas, you are helping to support our independent growers.  Below is a list of our bags – please get in touch with us if you are interested in buying a bag for someone this Christmas!

VARB Festive Feast Bag £12.50

Family Bag £11

Senior Citizen Bag £8

If you would like to get involved or find out more about VARB, or if you know anyone that may benefit from this year’s Festive Feast, please contact lisa@varb.org.uk or call 01737 762 115.

Bake With Jack: A Delicious Collaboration

Bake with Jack is run by chef Jack Sturgess, who is passionate –  not only about baking – but about spreading the message that anyone can make their own bread from home. He runs workshops, demonstrations and classes across Surrey to prove that ANYONE can make their own, and that it’s not scary!

He says that he started Bake with Jack because:

Modern bread in the UK is awful (my personal opinion). It is laced with processing aids and artificial additives. In my opinion the structure and texture of it alone is enough to give us a dodgy tum!

Because bread making shouldn’t be a confusing, scary process. Let’s keep it simple because you can do it.

Homemade bread is delicious, and all the more delicious because the flavour is elevated by the pride you feel for having made it yourself! With your hands and your heart.

We wholeheartedly agree with this, and were intrigued to see whether we could collaborate with him in any way. So a couple of weeks ago we sent Jack one of our seasonal veg boxes to see what he could make of it. We were delighted to see that, not only did he make these gorgeous looking pumpkin doughnuts, he also gave us a recipe for a beetroot and spelt focaccia!

We’re sharing the recipe with you – please, please remember that this method is expertly put together to make it simple and enjoyable enough for you to try at home! So please do – try it with your children this weekend, or stay out of the pub and in the kitchen one cold evening this week and treat yourself!

Here’s the recipe – enjoy. And thank you to Jack for sharing this with us, we are really excited that you’ve come up with something so gorgeous!

 

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Beetroot and Spelt Focaccia

So, thanks to some deliciously earthy and sweet beetroots from Greener Greens I have developed a focaccia to celebrate their beautiful colour and delicate flavour.

Spelt is an ancient grain, and this recipe used quite a large proportion of wholemeal spelt flour to make a real comforting and wholesome bread. To get the best flavour and colour from the beetroots, I wrapped one yellow and one purple individually in tin foil and baked in the oven at for an hour, until a knife can be easily pushed into the centre.

Wait a while before peeling, but keep them in the tin foil. When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze them out of the tin foil leaving their skins behind, then rub off any bits that are still there.

This recipe will make one focaccia.

 

Difficulty: Easy

3 hours

 

Ingredients

For the dough

350g       Wholemeal Spelt Flour

150g       Strong White Bread Flour

10g          Salt

12g          Fresh Yeast or 1 x 7g sachet of dry easy bake yeast

330g       Room Temperature Water

20g          Olive oil

 

For the topping

2 cooked beetroots (see above)

4tbsp     Olive Oil

4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked

Maldon sea salt flakes

 

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Method

  1. Place a large bowl on your scales and weigh out your white flour. Zero the scales and weigh your wholemeal flour on top, and then do the same with the salt.
  2. Weigh your room temperature water into a jug. If you are using fresh yeast, pop it into the water to dissolve before moving on to step 4. Or, your 7g sachet of dry yeast can be popped into the bowl with the flour.
  3. Pour the yeasty liquid into the bowl, add the olive oil and use a dough scraper to mix everything together. When it all comes together into a relatively firm dough, turn it out onto the table.
  4. Knead the dough for 8 minutes on a clean surface, without dusting with any flour. If the dough makes a mess on the table, bring everything back together with the flat side of your dough scraper as you go along.
  5. Next, with the slightest dusting of flour on the table, shape the dough into a ball, and place it back into the bowl. Dust the dough’s surface lightly, and cover the bowl with a clean cloth. Allow 60-90 minutes for your dough to rest and rise, developing flavour and texture.
  6. While your dough rests you can get to work making your topping. Slice your beetroots into rounds about 3mm thick. If you’re using one purple and one yellow beetroot like I did, slice them into separate bowls. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of each, chop your rosemary leaves roughly and sprinkle them over too. Mix up each bowl and leave to marinade.
  7. Prepare yourself a tray for the next part. You’ll need one that’s roughly 35cm by 25cm, lined with a piece of parchment paper and drizzled with olive oil.
  8. When your dough has puffed up nicely, transfer the dough ball onto your oiled tray. Press with your fingertips to spread the dough out really well.
  9. Now arrange your beetroot all over the top, pushing pieces down into the dough with your fingertips, and pour the remaining herb oil over the top.
  10. Rest the dough, uncovered for 45-60 minutes, and at some point during this time, preheat the oven to 180°C Fan/Gas Mark 5 with an empty deep tray in the bottom
  11. When you are ready to bake, boil a kettle of water, and sprinkle your sea salt over the top or your dough.
  12. Carefully place your focaccia into the oven, pour about 1cm deep of water from the kettle into the hot tray and shut the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Slide a knife underneath the focaccia and tip it up to peep underneath. When the focaccia is golden all over the base it is ready. If it’s still a little pale in the centre, bake for longer, 5 minutes extra at a time until it’s done.
  14. Transfer the focaccia to a wire rack, and drizzle well with olive oil. Leave to cool before tucking in!

 

 

You can find out more about Jack and what he does on his website, as well as getting more tips, recipes and advice – and we’d thoroughly recommend that you do!