Let’s Go Birding!

After our last blog post about insects,  I’m sure you’ve all been keeping your eyes to the ground! Now it’s time to look up though – with the bird breeding season upon us it’s well worth keeping an eye on the trees and hedgerows to see who’s around. Below we’ve listed a few of our favourites to keep an eye on – particularly if you have bird feeders in your garden. Thank you to Rosie from the Wilde & Greene farm shop for her amazing photographs.

 

  1. Chaffinch

These little delights are a lovely addition to any garden. Their distinctive colouring (red with a bluish grey head for males, a more subdued brown and buff for the females) separates them from other finches. Look for their obvious black and white wing bars in flight.

During nesting season these little birds make a distinctive frog-like ‘kkk-kkk’ if you venture too close to their nests, and loud ‘feep’ calls can often be heard coming out of hedgerows and trees.

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2.  Dunnock

This lesser known sparrow is the real life ‘little brown job’ of the bird world.  Sometimes called a ‘hedge sparrow’ you will often see them skulking around the ground underneath bird feeders, hedgerows and bushes. For something so normal looking, Dunnocks have extremely interesting breeding methods. It’s always the quiet ones. Listen for a high-pitched, rather frantic chatter coming from hedges.

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3.  Greenfinch

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Greenfinches love black sunflower seeds! They are bright little birds with a twittering (sometimes a bit jurassic) song. They’re common on heathland, in parks and gardens and in woodland.  Their distinctive green-green plumage and black-tipped wings make them easy to spot.

 

4. Great Tit

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Great Tits are very easy to tell apart from other members of the tit family. They have a long, pointed beak and a very black head. They’re much larger than blue tits, and their plumage tends to be more green than blue, with a yellow chest. It’s a very common garden and bird feeder visitor. You can hear its very distinctive two syllabled ‘teacher-teacher’ call pretty much anywhere you go.

 

5.  Long Tailed Tit

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These lovely little birds are a common favourite. They fly from tree to tree in excitable family units devouring insects as they go. You’ll often find them on fat-ball feeders. They have an almost electric sounding repeated ‘sceep’ call  which is hard to miss when they’re around! Long-Tailed Tits are easy to spot – they’re little rose-pink, white and black fluff balls with very long tails and short beaks.

 

6.  Goldfinch

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Other than an extremely distinctive bubbling chatter, Goldfinches are incredibly easy to recognise because of their read faces, black caps and yellow and black wings. They’re common visitors to bird tables, gardens and parks, although I often see them sitting on top of houses on aerials chatting away to one another.

 

7.  Barn Swallow

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They’ll be back soon! Swallows migrate here from March until October for the summer and nest inside old farm buildings. They have a distinctive chatter with a ‘kkk’ noise coming from the throat added in for good measure. Barn Swallows have such a distinctive shape – a deep forked tail with long streamers and pointed, elegantly curved wings, you’ll most likely see them on the wing, playing and flying through the air catching insects as they go.  They have white undersides, red throats and blue bodies.

 

8.  Great Spotted Woodpecker

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These striking birds have black and white plumage with strong red undersides. The male also has a distinctive red patch on the back of his head. You’ll more likely hear them rather than see them when they’re in trees  – either a loud drumming or a loud call that is almost like a laugh, which they often do in flight too.

Rosie was lucky enough to have one on her bird feeder, where they can sometimes be spotted (they like peanuts). Otherwise, look out for them in woodland, parks and large gardens.

 

With numbers in strong decline, it’s more important than ever to take notice of the birds that we have in our local area. Why not keep a record of the species that you see – maybe even keep a tally on numbers to monitor the birds year on year? Even if you decide not too, they’re still nice just to look at!

 

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Recipe: Turnip Dauphinoise

Our Veg of the Week at the Wilde & Greene Farm Shop last week was the Golden Turnip. To celebrate this tiny (but triumphant) vegetable I made turnip dauphinoise, just to see whether it was possible. It was, and it was great. I’ve put together the recipe for you so that we can all share the power of the turnip.

It’s a great side dish to meat and goes very well with leafy veg such as kale, spinach or brussell tops.

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Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

5-6 medium turnips (golden or regular) peeled and thinly sliced

227ml (one pot) organic double cream

100ml milk

100g parmesan cheese, grated

 

Method:

Pre heat oven to 180° or gas mark 4.

Slowly heat the cream and milk in a medium pan until it starts to thicken. Add the garlic and turnips to the pan and allow to cook slowly for 10-15 minutes when the turnips have slightly softened.

Once they have started to soften, pour the mixture into a deep tray, ensuring that the mix is not too spread along the bottom of the tin (there must be a good thickness to it to make sure that it cooks before burning). Add the parmesan cheese to the top of the mixture (I also added cherry tomatoes whole which was lovely) and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Once the top has browned and the turnips are fully cooked, serve.

 

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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.

A Surrey Kitchen Recipe: Chicken and Mange Tout Stir Fry

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. We were lucky enough to get two recipes back! The last one was a gorgeous vegetarian asparagus frittata.
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This time we’ve got a great recipe for a chicken stir-fry. Remember, if you’re vegetarian you can replace the chicken with soya products or go on ahead without it.  This recipe is wonderfully quick, making it a perfect one for a manic work or school night.

Chicken and Mange Tout Stir Fry

 

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Emma says:

“Chicken stir-fry is very quick, healthy, easy to make and relatively low cost.  The  beautiful Magetout or snow pea/snap pea from Greener Greens are low calorie, high in vitamin C, Vitamin A and K and prevents against a host of diseases from cancer to heart disease and even depression.  Carrots are a wonderful source of beta-carotene, fibre, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.  A perfect dish to enjoy this summer in your garden with a glass of something cold.”
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Serves 2-3

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon fresh ginger

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

A splash soy sauce

Salt and pepper

2 chicken breasts

2 carrots sliced into thin strips

200g mangetout

1 large Portobello mushroom chopped

Coriander to garnish

 

Preparation Method:

 

1) Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the chicken for 5-6 minutes or until browned.

2) Add the onion, carrot, mangetout and mushrooms and fry for a further 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add the chopped garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce and season with salt and pepper.

 

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That’s it, simple yet incredibly effective. Please let us know what you think, and for more recipes visit Emma’s blog – Surrey Kitchen.

 

Bake With Jack: Another Exciting Recipe

We were lucky enough to get a recipe from Jack last year – and now Bake with Jack is back! Chef Jack Sturgess 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’ve been lucky enough to get something back, and we’ll be hearing from him with yet another recipe over the next couple of weeks!

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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 brill! I can’t wait to try this for lunch one day this week.

 

Grilled Asparagus Ciabatta with Lemon and Tarragon Pesto

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Serves 2

 For the Pesto:

 

20g          Greener Greens organic tarragon leaves

80g          Olive oil

10            Toasted pine nuts

20g          Finely grated pecorino

Pinch of Salt

 

12            Greener Green organic asparagus spears

1               Ciabatta

1               Clove of garlic

½               Lemon

4tbsp     Greek yoghurt

 

Olive oil

Black Pepper

Salt

 

 

 

First make your pesto. Put the olive oil, tarragon, pine nuts and a pinch of salt into a mini food processor and blend together. You can make it quite smooth if you like but I like mine to be coarse. Add the pecorino and pulse until it is just combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if you need to.

 

Trim the woody ends off the asparagus spears, peel and halve the garlic clove, and cut two chunks of ciabatta. Rub the cut side of ciabatta with a little olive oil.

 

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until it is just smoking. Grill your ciabatta for around 2-3 minutes until charred and when they are still warm rub the grilled side with the cut side of the garlic and season with a little salt. Put the ciabatta toasts on two plates.

 

Next get the asparagus onto the grill. I like to hold mine down with a potato masher to be sure they get charred evenly all the way up the stems. Grill for 2-3 minutes, then turn them over and grill the other side the same. No need for oil at this stage as it’ll just make your kitchen smoky! When they are ready they should be charred and blackened in lines with still some bite.

 

Place the hot asparagus into a large mixing bowl, add three tablespoons of your pesto and a good squeeze of lemon. If your pesto is well seasoned you shouldn’t need to add any salt at this point. Toss the asparagus to dress it nicely all over then arrange the spears on top of your toasts.

 

Finish with two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt on each one, a drizzle of the pesto that’s left in the bowl and a little black pepper. Serve!

 

TIP: Any leftover pesto will keep nicely in the fridge for two days.

 

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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!

Our Growers: Michael Hall School

The 2 ½ acre walled garden at Michael Hall School unites many activities.  Within the garden, they grow about a hundred varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and top fruit, all to Demeter standards – the largest certification organisation for biodynamic agriculture. Compost is important to biodynamic gardening and Michael Hall maintain a variety of compost heaps around the garden.  They have two old fashioned wooden greenhouses, three polytunnels, and the original Victorian propagation houses.  They’ve also just recently installed a new flow form which is used to improve the irrigation water for the seedlings, and to make nettle, comfrey and compost teas.

Because Michael Hall School, as well as supplying us with some of our wonderful produce, is also a Steiner school, part of the garden is entirely set aside for gardening teaching. There is a gardening classroom, the children’s propagation house, a bread baking oven, and tools for garden and woodland crafts.   Children have their garden beds there and it is where their gardening lessons take place.  In winter, they roam beyond the garden into the rest of the Michael Hall estate to learn about woodland management. What a fabulous way of learning!

The aim of Michael Hall School is to combine beauty in the garden with growing an abundance of good biodynamic vegetables for the school canteen, the garden shop and the local community.

We’d like to thank Laurie, the gardner responsible for providing us with beautiful produce that we can then pass on to you. At the moment, we have perpetual spinach, rainbow chard and lettuces from them. You can buy them online and have them delivered to you for free here.

 

WE SEA KALE

I’ve been walking on a lot of beaches recently – and one thing that I’ve found that I think is really fascinating is sea kale.  Here’s one – just sprouting through with its little purple leaves:

This is how it starts to grow – sprouting from incredibly sturdy looking stalks.

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Sea kale is a native perennial, which favours shingle beaches and those with coarser sands.  It’s incredibly rare in Sussex and across the UK, although it is often abundant where it is found. It’s actually protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) and must not be picked without permission from the landowner. Its rarity has not been helped by the fact that the Victorians developed a pretty bad habit of digging it up and sticking it in their ornamental gardens.  It also hasn’t been helped by the introduction of sea defences along our coastlines or being crushed underfoot by people wandering along the seafront.

This kale was once quite a delicacy. It’s actually edible at every stage of its life – from its purple shoots through to the tiny blossoms (much like purple sprouting broccoli). It then becomes more ‘cabbagey’ when the leaves turn green, and finally, when the  little green fruits appear.  Don’t pick it though – as mentioned earlier, it’s illegal.

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You can purchase seeds though –  I would imagine that sea kale would be a great thing to try to grow yourself – they’re pictured above.  Once the leaves have died off, the dried pods then replant elsewhere. Clever little things! In the meantime, watch where your feet go next time you’re walking along a shingle beach, you might stand on a sea kale’s head.

Oh, and if this post has made you fancy a bit of kale, why don’t you take a look at ours?

 

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Our New Website & Online Ordering are Here!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

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We’ve just launched our new website – complete with online ordering! It’s never been easier to get organic, fresh produce grown by local independent farmers delivered directly to your door!  With this in mind, it’s time to talk about your overall health and wellbeing….

It can sometimes feel quite overwhelming to really invest in your own health and adopt positive life changes, especially when it comes to changing your eating habits. It’s an investment well worth taking though – what you eat directly impacts how you feel, both in your body and in your mind. You wouldn’t fill a car with dirty petrol, so why fuel your own body with anything other than the cleanest and most natural of foods? Up until the beginning of the 20th century, good diet and physical well-being was the foundation of all medical treatment. Unfortunately, overtime, this basic knowledge that our ancestors had acquired about the importance of the nutritional benefits in the foods that were available to them.

We at Greener Greens think that it’s about time that we rediscover what our ancestors once knew and reconnected with our food. Our seasonal boxes contain the fresh produce that your body needs to maintain its health and vitality and is free from chemicals. Trust in nature! It knows best when it comes to growing our food. According to the changing seasons, our bodies need different nutrients to maintain great health. Nature has provided a range of produce that contains exactly what we need to ensure that we’re at our best all year round – both in our bodies and our minds.

Greener Greens offers a quality organic range of fruit and vegetables, grown by certified organic, independent growers, delivered to your door every week. Your first steps towards being healthy and making a positive lifestyle choice starts here!

Visit our website and make your first order today!